All Blacks not panicking about Wallabies locks

The Rugby Championship
AAP
by AAP

All Blacks workhorse Sam Whitelock is aware but not alarmed at the threat posed by rising Wallabies locks Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold.

After mixing and matching different locks for two years, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika appears to have found a duo that meet his demand for physicality and ball-carrying combined with the necessary set-piece skills.

Coleman, in particular, showed last year he is more than ready to get in the faces of Whitelock and his lock partner Brodie Retallick who have reigned supreme in recent times.

Whitelock is prepared for a bruising battle with Coleman and Arnold in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup opener at ANZ Stadium.

"Both of those guys have .. been really physical with the way they carry the ball around the breakdown," he said.

"They've been aggressive.

"That's how they're going to play and we've got to make sure as a team we're ready for that and we have a plan."


Whitelock welcomed Coleman's declaration the Wallabies, who haven't lifted the Bledisloe since 2002, believe "now more than ever" they can defeat the All Blacks.

"They've played some really good rugby. They've got to go in there confident," he said.

Whitelock, like many teammates from the Crusaders, must also combat physical and mental fatigue this week, having played big minutes and near non-stop rugby since a suspension for striking in early May.

On Tuesday, the Crusaders skipper was peppered with more questions about their Super Rugby title triumph ensuing celebrations than the weekend's Test

"It was really rewarding but that's all finished now ... it's a lot easier than you think to move onto the next chapter," Whitelock insisted, when asked about the Johannesburg decider.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster backed Whitelock to withstand anything the Wallabies threw at him in Sydney.

"He's mentally durable. He doesn't get flustered and not a lot of things take his eyes off what his next job is," Foster said.

"That's probably his greatest strength."

Foster and Whitelock both talked up the threat of the Wallabies, who conducted an intense training camp while New Zealand sides travelled to South Africa during the Super finals.

Foster wasn't thrilled to hear predictions of a low crowd at ANZ Stadium, taking the unusual step of imploring locals to get behind the Wallabies.

"Hopefully the public get right behind an Aussie team that's wanting to do well ... it's up to the public to get behind them," he said.

"When you look at the game we're like anyone, it's important to us that rugby is strong here."

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks on Saturday in Sydney, kicking off at 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.