Filling some big boots

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 14:17
Large george whitelock630 Large georgewhitelocksharks

With Kieran Read and Dan Carter out of the reckoning the Crusaders have given the leadership reins to the oldest of the four Whitelock brothers in their squad.

With Kieran Read and Dan Carter out of the reckoning the Crusaders have given the leadership reins to the oldest of the four Whitelock brothers in their squad.

George Whitelock will lead the seven-time champions out for the first time at Newlands on Saturday against the Stormers, and although there are a few senior players missing he is confident that the team will be able to take the challenge in their stride.

"There will be a lot of talk this week about Kieran [Read] being injured and Dan [Carter] staying at home, but that is the strength of the Crusaders we pride ourselves on that whole squad ethic and it is no different this Saturday.

"It is a huge challenge, Newlands is one of the great stadiums so we are under no illusion that it is going to be easy. But at the same time there is a lot of belief in our squad and it is probably going to come down to the wire," he said.

With his youngest brother Luke packing down next to him in Read's place at No.8, Whitelock knows that his role at the breakdown will be key against a physical Stormers side, and he is keen to lead by example on Saturday.

"It [breakdown] is probably where the game is going to be won and lost, both teams have been going well there in the last couple of weeks so it is going to be a helluva fight in terms of winning your ball and searching for those scraps," he said.

One person who is expecting Whitelock to step up under pressure is his coach Todd Blackadder who was quick to point out just how much experience the 27-year-old flank already has under his belt.

"George has won the ITM Cup five years in a row, he is highly experienced and he has really matured into the role. He was named as vice-captain along with Ryan Crotty at the start of the season and their role was to really support Reado.

"It is an opportunity that has come around earlier than we all expected but he is a seasoned professional, he has got a good head on him so I think he will do a great job.

"The guys really respect him so it is a good chance for him to lead, and it is a great chance for our team to show that we are not about individuals, it is more about the collective unity of a focused performance, so it is a good opportunity," he explained.

Whitelock's experience of leading Canterbury in the National Provincial Championships means that he is used to the pressure associated with the role, and having two of his brothers next to him and another one on the bench may also help settle his nerves on the big occasion.

Blackadder believes that the solid grounding the four brothers got was crucial in seeing them all crack it in professional rugby.

"They are all from a farming background, from a good family, they have good manners, a good work ethic and they don't like coming second in anything.

"It is really easy for their parents to go and watch them all play footy because they just go to the one game," he quipped.

By Michael de Vries

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h00 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26