Whitelock not fazed by history books
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The All Blacks immaculate record over Wales is not the main priority on the visitors' agenda revealed lock Sam Whitelock.
The last time the All Blacks suffered a defeat to Wales was back in 1953.
For Whitelock, it was especially poignant because his grandfather Nelson Dalzell played in that 8-13 loss at Cardiff Arms Park six days before Christmas in 1953.
His grandfather was also an All Blacks lock but didn't make his debut until the age of 32 when he was called up for the 1953/54 northern tour where he played 22 matches, including all five tests.
The biggest man in the touring squad, he developed a formidable second-row partnership with Tiny White.
However, the family connection and historical record don't seem to bother Whitelock, whose vision is solely on this weekend's Test match.
"It's one of those things, history's history. Once it's happened you can't change it, it's happened. We're always just looking forward to the next game and that's this week.
"We are aware of it to a point but we don't put a lot of time and energy onto that. We're just trying to energise the current group and looking forward to this week. We feel that's the best way to go and have a good performance," he said.
Whitelock will be up against long-standing rival Alun Wyn Jones again.
The lock admitted Jones is a formidable player and stated that there was no gap between the standards of play between the hemispheres, it came down to the different styles teams played.
"For us, at home, in the summer it's dry, you can play expansively.
"When it's cold you probably play a little more conservatively so it's making sure you've got a couple of different ways of playing.
"If it's working you can carry on playing that well but if it's not good teams can change on the hop. They don't have to wait until the next game to fix those issues or change what tactics they're using," he said.
Fellow lock Scott Barrett said he had been doing a lot of work on his defensive play. He hadn't been as dominant as he would like to be in collisions.
"I'm getting some small improvements but there's still a long way to go and I guess that is the challenge of becoming a better rugby player," he said.
Having had more of an involvement throughout the season Barrett said he had learned the value of consistency and having a mental plan in place. It was a case of not drifting in and out, it was a case of being up for every week.