Sam Whitelock will equal Richie McCaw’s record as the most capped All Black in test history this weekend, when he takes the field against Namibia in Toulouse – his 148th cap for the national side.
He’s one of six current and recently departed Crusaders in the playing 23, looking to make a point after losing to France 27-13 in Paris less than a week ago.
Whitelock debuted for the Crusaders in 2008 and has been part of seven championship-winning campaigns. In June 2023 he confirmed the 2023 season would be his last in the red and black.
He’s taken up a contract with French club Section Pau – less than 200km from where the All Blacks will play Namibia on Saturday at 7am NZT (Friday 9pm CET).
Should be overtake McCaw’s record of 148, it’s unlikely anyone will overtake him. All other current All Blacks in the top 10 – Aaron Smith (120), Beauden Barrett (117) and Brodie Retallick (104) – have called time on their All Blacks career at the end of 2023.
In speaking to media ahead of this weekend’s fixture, All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said it was “a massive occasion for Sam, and for us as a team”.
“He’s been a warrior for this team for a long time and to equal someone like Richie in test matches for the All Blacks is a massive acheivement,” Foster said.
“We all know how much it means to him to put on a black jersey, and to do it for the 148th time is a very special occasion.”
Ardie Savea is set to captain the side against Namibia, and reminded media of the fact Whitelock has been in the side “since the likes of Richie and Reado (Kieran Read)”.
“Everyone knows he’s a hard worker, but just seeing him grow and adapt has been special,” Savea said.
Of his 147 tests in the black jersey, the All Blacks have won 120, lost 21 and drawn six – putting Whitelock’s win record at 83 per cent.