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Lynn McConnell     08 Jun 2018     Getty Images

While both teams were without key personnel due to injuries, All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock said there was a lot of pride in both teams and that would ensure a firm contest.

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Whitelock said it had been frustrating missing out on game time over the last two weeks in Investec Super Rugby with the Crusaders but he was excited about getting out this weekend. He was confident the team was where it needed to be.

He had been involved in the All Blacks' pre-campaign camps and he just needed to back himself and his ability.

"At times I'm going to be blowing hard but I think that's normal no matter where you are in a Test match," he said.

His locking partner in the absence of Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett had stepped up after a couple of years in the side and people were starting to take notice of him now.

"But the best thing is having someone out there who I've played a lot with. It gives me that confidence to go out there and worry about my own thing because he's played so well," he said.
Due to the earlier camps the week's buildup had been smoother than it had been in the past and because of the good work done earlier the week had not been jam-packed.

"Every time you play the French, and I have been lucky enough to play them a few times now, you've got to be prepared for everything no matter if it’s the scrum, the lineout maul or the expansive play that they have been playing lately.

"For us as a team you've got to be ready for a number of different options they can play and when they do decide to go one they're very good at it," he said.

While there had been a lot of attention paid to the three Barretts, Beauden, Scott and Jordie who would be starting to create a record for the All Blacks, there would also be two Whitelocks with No.8 Luke starting and there would be plenty of family support with the Whitelock parents in the stand along with Sam and Luke's partners.