Because of how schedules fell, some players could play 50-60 Tests and never experience playing in a different coloured jersey.
There were no qualms in not wearing the black, so long as the silver fern was there, that was all that mattered, he said.
Whitelock said he was sure everyone knew the significance of Dave Gallaher and the trophy that will be on the line in his memory in the game.
Gallaher had been one of the 13 All Blacks killed in the First World War, and the trophy had a special place in the New Zealanders' hearts.
“It is one of those things we do talk around every time we play for it because, even though he lived so long ago, a lot of the standards that the All Blacks live by now he set up as the leader he was. We understand the history of it, and it is something we don't take lightly.”
Whitelock said Ireland's success in starving the All Blacks of the ball last week was likely to influence France's approach to some degree during the game.
He said it had been good having Sam Cane back in the team. He provided useful backup leadership wise and in bouncing ideas off him given his captaincy experience.
"Having another senior voice out there is really good. It is something I have always said, it is never up to one person out there to lead this team, it is down to a number of people and Sam is one of those guys," he said.
Leadership didn't centre around the captain on the day, he said. There were players on the bench or not in the playing 23 who contributed to the leadership.
"It takes leadership across the whole team to achieve what we want to achieve. That's something I've driven this week and as a leadership group I think we've nailed that balance of who speaks and when they do speak," he said.