Whitelock up for the huge challenge the Blues pose

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Whitelock said playing the Blues had always been special, and over the years, he had experienced the wins and losses in games against them. The losses were games players looked back on and thought, 'If only' or there were the games they had won and thought they had played well.

 

The cancellation of last year's game in Auckland only added to the hype around Sunday's game, and that was something Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa needed, he said.

 

"They are big, strong, guys. They apply themselves on the set-piece, they've got a great scrum.

 

"We've got to make sure that we do what we want to do, we are effective at it, rather than knocking our head against a hard wall. They are really strong in some of those areas so we make sure that we're smart with the way we play, but also that we take them on with good intent too, so it's a balancing act," he said.

 

They would have to aware of their strengths but also try to find some weaknesses.

 

Whitelock said he was feeling in good shape and enjoying the expansive style everyone was trying to play.

 

He had been asked to play a slightly different role to what he had previously and was working on the challenges associated with that.

 

 

"It's given me an opportunity to really look at my game and how I can have a greater influence on it whether I'm getting more touches, or less, depending on how the game goes," he said.

 

Having played four consecutive games, Whitelock said that tended to break the season into nice blocks for the Crusaders but what was enjoyable about the game this year was that there was no place to hide.

 

"You get a bye but there are three or four big games between them," he said.

 

While the Blues have competition in their front row for places, the Crusaders have their selection puzzles in their back three. All Black Will Jordan said that had been the case through the early stages, and that was without George Bridge and Manasa Matele adding to the pressure of selection.

 

"It's great for us as individuals having that pressure each week to perform and it's pushing us to play as well as we can," he said.

 

Jordan said the Blues had their attacking options in the backs, and with a Sunday afternoon kick-off, both teams would be looking to use the ball as much as they could.

 

"Both teams have got strength across the park, and there's been a lot of chat around the forward pack and the battle up, so the forwards will have their say as well but I know as backs we're excited and hoping to go out there and play some attacking footy," he said.

 

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