Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

“Impossible to compare”: Why Sam Whitelock's legacy is equal to Sir Colin Meads


Sam Whitelock, 153 tests - what an amazing career he has had for Canterbury, for the Crusaders, and for us, all New Zealand rugby fans.

Ironically, his last Test match was as a substitute in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final against South Africa. We all know how that turned out, but it would have made him really angry to have been a substitute.

Because if anyone was an 80-minute man in the game, it was Sam Whitelock - he was the kind of player who just hated to not be out there the whole time.

It was the right stage for him to finish, a Rugby World Cup Final, but the wrong result.

In 2008 he debuted for Canterbury, but he only played 22 games because he was better than that it seems, he ended up playing for the Crusaders of course.

Whitelock made his All Blacks debut against Ireland in New Plymouth, coming on as a substitute.

He's a dual World Cup winner, and now only Ma'a Nonu is left from the 2011 greats playing professional rugby after Whitelock retires.

Scott Robertson has heaped glowing praise - you would expect nothing less, would you? Because without Whitelock's golden years, would Razor be where he is now? He's got a lot to thank Sam Whitelock for.

180 games for the Crusaders - he will always be a legend down there in Canterbury, even though he hails from Fielding and now I understand, may well be going to live in Hawke's Bay and start his new chapter of life: farming.

Countless lineout wins and steals, tackles and turnovers - look at his career as a collective, and that's what you have to do with tight forwards. They have moments, but it's the all round gutsy effort that they put in time after time where you judge them.

Well, is he better than Sir Colin Meads? I think it's almost impossible to compare them against the quality of opposition, the style of game, just the general pace of the game. Everything is so different between the great 'Pinetree' and Whitelock, who more recently has been referred to as 'Gandalf'.

But together, they would have made one hell of a combination. The guts of a tight five that would have been the envy of the rugby world.

Thank you, Sam. Thank you.

All Blacks

More in Rugby Union