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Watch: Sam Whitelock scores try with final touch in rugby

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Jun 2024, 3:02pm

Watch: Sam Whitelock scores try with final touch in rugby

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Jun 2024, 3:02pm

Sam Whitelock’s rugby career will finish on a personal high, with the All Blacks legend scoring a try with his final touch before leaving the game for good.

Taking the field in his final match for Section Paloise in France’s Top 14 competition, Whitelock crossed the chalk with time up on the clock and signed off his career in style.

A firm fist pump showed how much the moment meant to the 153-test veteran and he then treated the Paloise fans to a lap of honour after the final whistle.

Despite beating Perpignan 36-24, Section Paloise, known as Pau, had no chance of making the playoffs as they sat in ninth place after 26 rounds. That means the try will be Whitelock’s final act in what has been a glittering career.

Signing in France presented an opportunity for a family reunion of sorts for Whitelock as his brother Luke captains Pau.

After the move was announced last year, Whitelock said having his brother already in France would make the transition that much easier.

“Rugby’s going full circle, going back to what it was when we were first growing up as little kids playing at home on the lawn. It’s an opportunity to catch up with Luke and his lovely wife, Claire, and it’s going to be a pretty easy transition having them there – they’ve been there for a couple of years so I’ve got a translator straight away.”

He alluded to when all four Whitelock brothers (Sam, Luke, Adam and George) all played for the Crusaders together as being an experience for both the brothers and their teammates.

“It was amazing being here with the Crusaders when all four of us were here. There was always the drive of being better, but then there was that family dynamics chucked in. So if you were getting a bit grumpy with an older brother, a family nickname would come out and some of the other players would be like, what’s going on?”

Sam Whitelock accolades

• In 2008 he was part of the New Zealand Under-20 team that won the inaugural Junior World Championship, which was followed by a provincial debut for Canterbury later that year. He played a total of 22 games for the province.

• He made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2010 and played 180 times for the team through to 2023. Only Wyatt Crockett has more appearances (203). The club won seven Super Rugby titles during his time there.

• He scored two tries in his test debut on June 12, 2010 against Ireland in New Plymouth, aged 21, becoming All Black number 1104. His last test was the 2023 Rugby World Cup final against South Africa in Paris.

• He recorded 125 wins in 153 tests, with 22 losses and six draws. When he reached 100 tests, he was the first player in the world to do so with less than 10 defeats. At that point he had lost just eight times.

• In addition to two Rugby World Cup wins, he won 11 Tri Nations/Rugby Championship titles and was involved in 14 straight seasons where the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup.

• Whitelock was the eighth All Blacks centurion, achieving the milestone in a 38-13 win over Australia in Sydney on August 18, 2018.

• He first captained the All Blacks against Wales on November 25, 2017 and would go on to captain the side in a total of 18 tests.

• The November 2017 clash with Wales marked his first test alongside brother Luke. The pair would play a total of five tests together while Luke was awarded the captaincy a week before Sam (against the France XV) on the 2017 end-of-year tour.

• Whitelock’s brother George played one test for the All Blacks in 2009, while another brother, Adam, represented the All Blacks Sevens.

• In 2022, Whitelock and long-time second-row partner Brodie Retallick set a new world record of 64 test starts together, surpassing Springbok duo Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield.

• He was awarded the Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Trophy as New Zealand Player of the Year in 2017 and was named in the 2022 World Rugby Men’s Dream Team of the Year.

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