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Woodcock takes century in his stride

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 11:56
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Most things don't phase him
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Tony Woodcock will join an elite club when he becomes the All Blacks' fourth Test centurion in the Rugby Championship Round Two encounter with the Wallabies in Wellington on Saturday.

He joined All Black captain Richie McCaw (117 Tests), Keven Mealamu (105) and Mils Muliaina (100) as New Zealanders with more than 100 Tests.

McCaw is sixth on the all-time list of Rugby Union Test caps leaders - which is headed by George Gregan (Australia, 139), Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland, 133 - 125 for Ireland and eight for the B&I Lions), Ronan O'Gara (Ireland, 130 - 128 Ireland, two B&I Lions), Jason Leonard (England, 119 - 114 England, five B&I Lions) and Fabien Pelous (France, 118).

Woodcock said it's an achievement he is proud of.

"I'm just really excited to have the opportunity and the body to hang in there for this long, and I guess the trust of coaches.

"But it's just a normal Test match, we prepare just the same, and take it day-by-day."

Coach Steve Hansen said the milestone is testament to a better than average athlete.

"We want to congratulate Woody [Woodcock]," Hansen said, adding: "He is a hugely respected player within the group who always puts the team first.

"It has been business as usual for him and the team this week, but we will enjoy acknowledging his achievement with him after the game."

The coach also spoke of the 32-year-old prop's ability to maintain his high standards for such a long period.

"He's got the ability around the park and he's probably one of the most mentally tough blokes I've met," Hansen said.

"Most things don't phase him and he's been through quite a bit, and he's handled that pretty easily."

Woodcock said he had vivid memories of his first Test, in Cardiff in 2002, and the game had gone very quickly.

His first jersey was still at home and reaching 100 Tests was a proud moment and he was thrilled to have the opportunity and that his body had been able to hang in so long.

Woodcock also felt that New Zealand will cope much better with the much talked-about new scrum engagement sequence, recently introduced by the IRB.

"We've probably had only one game at it, and we've been doing the other way [of engaging at scrums] for a long time and it is going to take a little bit of time, but I think it is going to be good for the game," he said.

* Meanwhile McCaw will play his 31st Test against Australia this weekend - a new record for the most Tests played by a player against one country.

* McCaw will also play his 118th Test match this weekend and become the fifth-equal most capped international player (with French lock Fabien Pelous).

* The All Blacks have played Australia 147 times since 1903, with 100 wins to New Zealand, 41 to Australia and six draws.  The All Blacks are the first team to record 100 Test wins against a single opponent.

* The All Blacks have recorded 380 Test wins (out of 502 Tests for a winning percentage of 75.6 percent) and are moving in on France's record of 382 Test wins (in 695 Tests).

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