In reaching 100 test caps, it makes a man as much indispensable, as he is a valuable asset to any team. So when fans remark ‘in Sam Whitelock we Trust’ they all agree on one thing; his Mana.
In New Zealand culture, mana is translated as many different things. To have mana is to have great authority, presence or prestige. It is respect. For a rugby player, earning mana comes from deeds, actions and longevity.
Sam Whitelock has, and is achieving that in many ways. As a player, a leader and as a person. From the time he and his three brothers started playing rugby, they have all shown promise. At this point, three have been All Blacks – yet Sam has found the role to be as natural, as his height and athletic build.
In Sam Whitelock we Trust
On Saturday, he played his 100th test for the All Blacks. The 29-year-old Whitelock becomes just the eighth All Black and the first lock in the team’s century-plus history, to play 100 Tests.
He follows captain Kieran Read, who reached the milestone last year. Whitelock knows his Australian opponents well – he played his 25th test against the Wallabies on Saturday.
That result was another positive one. The 89th victory for the player, to bring his personal winning percentage to over 90% – three draws and eight losses are the only blights on his career. And for the Canterbury provincial team and for his Super Rugby championship winning franchise, the Crusaders, he has been part of some of the most successful teams in New Zealand Rugby.
Sam Whitelock away from the Park
Away from the park, Whitelock is a private individual. Married, with one child, he has earned the respect…to respect that privacy. His family were on hand to help him celebrate many accolades; his 100th Super Rugby cap and Rugby World Cup wins.
In late 2017, Whitelock visibly displayed another side, as he publicly supported the actions of former All Blacks logistics manager, Chalky Carr. A friend, Carr was suffering from pancreatic cancer. So in a bid to help raise money for a trust, the big lock showed a more charitable nature.
That side of his nature displays a balance. The player is at a stage where he has achieved back-to-back RWC and Super Rugby championships. Satisfied, comfortable in his own skin, and displaying mana on and off the field.
A Force on the Field
On the field, he is a part of the most celebrated locking partnership playing. He and Brodie Retallick are very different players, but as a unit they are formidable. Retallick has the more noticeable skills level, yet Sam has been know to score from 60 meters out.
Each have their strengths and each works hard to continue to improve, and to provide for others. Never selfish, the pair are close to breaking the All Blacks record of 49 tests, held by Ian Jones and Robin Brooke.
A powerful lock, a dynamic jumper and influential kick receiver, all the attributes that make Whitelock a contemporary of some of the most celebrated locks. Andy Haden, Murray Pierce and of course, Sir Colin Meads.
Comparisons aside, it is the work, and effort which Sam Whitelock and the current group of players put in, that is generating the heights of success. Current head coach Steve Hansen enjoys the highest winning percentage of the majority of World Rugby coaches. That is born from the deeds of men like Whitelock, Owen Franks and Ben Smith. All part of the senior leadership group.
And Sam Whitelock is assured of an increasing role with the team. At 29, he could play for another four to six years – fitness willing. Current captain Kieran Read may not be around post the 2019 Rugby World Cup; Whitelock’s name is highest on the list to replace him. Having captained the team on four occasions, he is a natural choice.
It seems that over the course of his career, the lock forward has grown into a figure whom is respected and admired. Quiet in voice, tall in stature, and a significant part of the most successful era of All Blacks rugby. His continuing career was celebrated on Saturday night, and will continue to wear the Silver Fern proudly for the foreseeable future.
Photo montage of 100th Test celebrations for Sam Whitelock
Saturday August 25 – New Zealand v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images