Crusaders and All Blacks lock, Whitelock, will bring up his 150th Super Rugby game, while Cruden will play his 100th game for the Chiefs, having already made 25 appearances previously for the Hurricanes.
31 year-old Whitelock made his Super Rugby debut in 2010, when the Crusaders played the Highlanders in Christchurch. He still remembers the occasion clearly.
“I didn’t think I’d play. Brad Thorn had done his calf and Chris Jack was coming back from South Africa and I think he’d just done his thumb or wrist. But Isaac Ross and I started, and it was at the old AMI Stadium.
“It was a pretty tight game and I remember Zac Guildford running around Israel Dagg and those two being really good mates. Zaccy scored so I remember that little part of it, but it was a while ago now.”
Whitelock said it’s a special achievement for him, but the reality is, he’s still got to go out there and play a good game on Saturday night.
“I think Wyatt Crockett set it up for me, the way he played after so many milestones. He played his 100th and then went on to be the most capped Crusader, then his 150 and then onto being the most capped Super Rugby player and his 200th. The way he played in all those different milestones, he just worried about himself and then everything else came afterwards.
“That’s what anyone’s got to do as a rugby player. Adam Thomson did that last week playing his 100th, he went out there and had an impact on the game and obviously Cruds [Aaron Cruden] will be trying to do that in his 100th too.”
Cruden, who’s also 31, made his Chiefs debut against the Highlanders as well, back in 2012. He was a key director in the Chiefs’ back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.
The talented play maker and accurate kicker announced his return to the Gallagher Chiefs late last year. Since Cruden’s return to Investec Super Rugby he has once again been a standout performer. His leadership, experience, and ability to seamlessly direct play have been key attributes in his many strong contributions in 2020.
Cruden said it will be a special moment on Saturday and one of many great moments he has had in the Chiefs jersey.
“I have been very fortunate to play rugby professionally for as long as I have. I have had so many great moments playing and a lot of them have been in a Chiefs jersey. It is a very special team that I feel very passionate about and I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the Club. It has been an absolute privilege to pull on the jersey so thank you to all those involved and for the memories it has brought me.”
The Chiefs host the Crusaders in their Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa match at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday at 7:05pm. It’s your last chance to catch the Chiefs at home in 2020. Get your tickets HERE.