World Cup winner Whitelock wants a Super Rugby medal
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock has two Rugby World Cup winners medals but nothing to show for his Super Rugby efforts over the years.
The fact that he's never been on the winner's podium for this tournament shows how much business the Crusaders mean this season.
With the Lions standing in the way of an eighth Crusaders title at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon‚ Whitelock said it would mean the world for him to win a Super Rugby winners' medal. He was on the losing side in Brisbane in 2011 and Sydney 2014.
“There's the history around Super Rugby and how well the Crusaders have done over the years but I've never been part of a winning side.
"To go out there and be one of the guys who have won a title is going to be amazing. There are some guys in the side who also want to do the same thing‚” Whitelock said.
“This game is going to be right up there. I've been lucky enough to have played on this ground and it's been some big games to.
"It's really about enjoying the occasion and the guys are excited by it.
"They know it's going to be hard and they have to work very hard and have to trust each other as well.
“The best thing about playing rugby at any level is that you have to trust your teammate and hopefully we can go out there and do it together.”
The significance of playing at Ellis Park has never been lost on Whitelock‚ who has been part of some epic Springbok/All Black encounters at the Doornfontein stadium.
Whitelock's had plenty of success at Ellis Park as an All Black but the Lions tripped them up last year in the quarterfinals.
Both sides have looked miles better than they were last year‚ which explains why they will be the headline acts in the season's showpiece.
Like his coach Scott Robertson‚ Whitelock's not worried about the choice of match official in Jaco Peyper.
“Jaco's a great ref and we've had him three or four times this year and he's been outstanding. He calls things as he sees them and I think he'll do a great job‚” Whitelock said.
“There's a great relationship and it's also good when the communication goes both ways. The beautiful thing about rugby is that all fields are roughly the same size no matter where you are in the world. We'll just worry about the stuff that's happening on the field.
“We're a different side this year even though there was a number of us involved in last year's match.
"We've got here much earlier this year‚ which has helped with a lot of things. The boys are nice and relaxed and they're not too hyped up with a lot of things. I think we'll be ready.
“There are a lot of things we've been trying to improve and a couple of little changes have helped.”
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee‚ 14 Ruan Combrinck‚ 13 Lionel Mapoe‚ 12 Harold Vorster‚ 11 Courtnall Skosan‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Ross Cronjé‚ 8 Ruan Ackermann‚ 7 Kwagga Smith‚ 6 Jaco Kriel (c)‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Andries Ferreira‚ 3 Ruan Dreyer‚ 2 Malcolm Marx‚ 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe‚ 17 Corné Fourie‚ 18 Johannes Jonker‚ 19 Lourens Erasmus‚ 20 Cyle Brink‚ 21 Faf de Klerk‚ 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili‚ 14 Israel Dagg‚ 13 Jack Goodhue‚ 12 Ryan Crotty‚ 11 Seta Tamanivalu‚ 10 Richie Mo'unga‚ 9 Bryn Hall‚ 8 Kieran Read‚ 7 Matt Todd‚ 6 Jordan Taufua‚ 5 Sam Whitelock (c)‚ 4 Scott Barrett‚ 3 Owen Franks‚ 2 Codie Taylor‚ 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell‚ 17 Wyatt Crockett‚ 18 Michael Alaalatoa‚ 19 Luke Romano‚ 19 Pete Samu‚ 20 Mitchell Drummond‚ 21 Mitchell Hunt‚ 23 George Bridge
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