Record-breaking locks have more goals

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Lynn McConnell     16 Nov 2018     Getty Images

They will become New Zealand's longest-serving pair supplanting Ian Jones and Robin Brooke in the record books.

Both have been key members of the side since their first Test in 2012, also against Ireland but in Auckland as the All Blacks won 42-10. Whitelock will be playing his 108th Test and Retallick his 74th.

Retallick said Whitelock's skill set, lineout work and his massive work rate around the field was represented in his often being among the top tacklers in the team and it was that hard work that kept the team ticking over.

Whitelock said Retallick brought the hard edge to the All Blacks' game and that could be seen how the side struggled, at times, when he wasn't playing.

"He's always driving it at training and I'm sure there's a few people who get frustrated with it at times but that flows straight into a game and makes all our jobs pretty easy if he's doing that," he said.

Their combination was such that they didn't always need to talk to communicate and body language could be enough to know what the other thought.

"You get to a scrum and sometimes you don't have to say anything but we know we need to get round the corne, or whatever, so that definitely helps. The more you play with someone the more you pick up on some of those things," he said.

Both players appreciated the work done by Jones and Brooke during the mid-1990s, the players whose record they were surpassing. They had broken down some barriers about what locks were supposedly out there for and they had complemented each other well, Whitelock said.

Retallick said one of the jobs of being a professional rugby player was to go out and inspire the next generation. Everyone in the squad wanted to be a better rugby player and push the boundaries and try and do things.

"We're just going out there to be the best rugby players we can, and showcase our skill sets," he said.

That would be part of their requirement against Ireland as they looked to repeat the lineout problems they caused England last week.

Retallick said the All Blacks' approach to the lineout preparation was similar each week.

"Last week we just got a bit more luckier and managed to pick a few but, obviously as forwards, we all do our homework and try and anticipate their movement but it's just about reading cues and trying to pick where they go and most of the time we're just hoping and getting in there and trying to cut off the ball in front of them," he said.

"You've got to try and read their body language or their movement and at the same time getting in the air because if you think about it too much you'll still be on the ground so it's getting that balance right," he said.

The All Blacks were not reading too much into the problems Ireland had at the lineout against Argentina last week. Teams were able to turn things around quickly by absorbing lessons and they would no doubt have a couple of things up their sleeves for the All Blacks so it was all about the All Blacks doing their homework and making sure they were getting in the air.

The game itself was a big one, and there had been no shortage of edge at training. Ireland had a good pack, they had big props who were ball carriers and it would be a physical contest, just as they had been in recent seasons.

Whitelock said the hype surrounding the game was great because these were the games players wanted to be part of.

"As a rugby player you want to get out there and test yourself against the teams that are right up there and this is one of those weeks so as Brodie said there has been plenty of edge this week," he said.