Sam Whitelock determined to avoid more family misfortune in Wales

Sam Whitelock does not want to emulate family history when he captains New Zealand against Wales today.

The Crusaders lock leads his country for a first time, taking over leadership duties from the injured Kieran Read.

The All Blacks are seeking a 30th successive victory over Wales, but the last time they lost — 13-8 in 1953 — Whitelock’s grandfather George Nelson Dalzell played for New Zealand.

“It is something that Luke (Whitelock’s brother and the New Zealand number eight this weekend) and I are probably aware of more than anyone else,” he told reporters at the Principality Stadium yesterday.

“It would be nice not to do that (end on the losing team).”

Despite being without a number of key players, including Read, Brodie Retallick, and Dane Coles, New Zealand are still firm favourites to extend their winning sequence at Wales’ expense.

“We always want to play well every week, and this week is no different,” Whitelock said. “We are excited to get out there now, and let our actions do the talking. It is a massive Test, as it always is. The boys are ready, we have done as much homework as we can, and know it is all about being fresh for the game.”

Reflecting on the captaincy role, he added: “It’s massive in my playing career, but the beauty is there are so many guys in the team who have done it before. It is never up to one person to lead, so all I have got to worry about is going out there and playing well and doing my job and role first.

“It was always a dream to play for the All Blacks. I’ve never been too fussed around being captain or anything, but it is probably something the longer I have been around, it is something I have been more aware of.

“I would like to think my processes are pretty sound. It’s just making sure all those boxes are ticked properly, and going forward making sure I am not caught out with anything.

“Myself and Luke played a lot of age-group rugby together, and a bit together at the Crusaders. To do it in a Test match is going to be unreal. My parents are going to be in the stand, and they will be quite emotional.”

WALES:

L Halfpenny (Scarlets); H Amos (Dragons), S Williams (Scarlets), O Williams (Gloucester), S Evans (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), T Faletau (Bath).

Replacements:

K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), W Jones (Scarlets), L Brown (Dragons), C Hill (Dragons), J Tipruic (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), R Priestland (Bath), J Roberts (Harlequins).

NEW ZEALAND:

D McKenzie; W Naholo, R Crotty, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; K Hames, C Taylor, N Laulala, P Tuipulotu, S Whitelock (capt), L Squire, S Cane, L Whitelock.

Replacements:

N Harris, W Crockett, O Tu’ungafasi, S Barrett, M Todd, TJ Perenara, L Sopoaga, A Lienert-Brown.

Referee:

Wayne Barnes (England).

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