Whitelock not concerned with history ahead of Wales

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Lynn McConnell     22 Nov 2017     Getty Images

It was about the All Blacks not having lost to Wales since 1953 and whether they thought about that record and not wanting to be in the first side to lose since that occasion.
For Whitelock it was especially poignant because his grandfather Nelson Dalzell had played in that 8-13 loss at Cardiff Arms Park six days before Christmas in 1953. But his family connection did appear to catch Welsh journalists by surprise and they left with their intros in place for Wednesday's story.

However, the historical record wasn't something high on the All Blacks' agenda for the game.

"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.

Records and achievements were things that were more likely to be thought about once players had retired and looked back at their careers.

"Test match rugby is week in, week out and you don't have time to sit back and think about those things," he said.

Whitelock was working on issues he wanted to improve in his game, particularly his first few steps from play to play, but he was also putting his experience to work in keeping players focused on the weekend's Test.

Whitelock recalled his first year in the All Blacks in 2010 had also ended in Cardiff, where they won 37-25, and being younger he had allowed his mind to drift to thoughts of home, and he would be advising players to be aware of that ahead of the game.

He didn't feel there was a 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 expansive. 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.

He would be up against long-standing rival Alun Wyn Jones again. He was a typical competitor who loved getting out on the field and playing with a hard, physical style. They were competitive in games but were also able to enjoy a beer and a catch-up after games, Whitelock 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.