Whitelock eyeing second Test against South Africa

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He expects to complete his quarantine on the day of the first Test against the Springboks and is undertaking intensive personal training to make himself available for selection.


Whitelock said the Level 4 lockdown meant he was with his wife Hannah during the whole birthing process. They had been able to have more time together after the birth of Penelope on August 29 than his playing requirements allowed during the birth of their first two children Fred, (four and a half years) and Iris (two and a half years).


The couple had received help from neighbours around the birth and will have ongoing support from their parents and in-laws in Whitelock's absence with the All Blacks.


He flies to Brisbane on Friday to go into two weeks quarantine. He will complete that on the day of the first Test against South Africa.


It would be a challenge to train in a hotel room, but he said All Blacks trainer Nick Gill had been 'flogging him' in preparation for his departure and had organised a programme when in MIQ.


Having to leave his family, he said he could relate a little to what it was like for All Blacks in the days before flights when they headed away on ships to return and be handed a six-month-old baby and told this was their son or daughter.


He won't see his family for some time, but he had that in common with other people, not just sportspeople as a result of the pandemic.

"I didn't make the decision lightly about going, but at the same time I have got to do my job," he said.


It would be a case of leaving one family to join another, and with the advantage of Zoom and Skype, he could keep his connection with family and friends.


Whitelock acknowledged it would be challenging to be ready to play because he wouldn't know how he was doing until joining the side.


"I'll know pretty quickly by the time I get through a couple of days training," he said.


Using the preparation boxers put in by achieving fitness without having to do long runs, he was aiming to be close to 100 per cent and ready to go when joining the team.


"I've always loved playing against them [the Springboks] because it's so hard. They're big, they're strong, they're physical. They get their best ball carriers, and they're going to run at you from 20m away. They don't care if you're in the way, they're there for that physical battle.


"Whether they run at you or they change and use their feet late, I think that's one of the reasons for us as Kiwis we love to play against the old foe. It's going to be pretty hard watching that 100th Test match [when I'm] almost out. How I deal with that is going to be really interesting to see how I set up myself for when I do get out. Hopefully it sets me up to perform," he said.


Whitelock was impressed with the 38-21 win in Perth and the performances of fellow locks Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett and Tupou Vaa'i. He said he wasn't a good spectator, and he realised he missed being involved and was keen to get to Australia.


"I thought the guys reacted well to a few curve balls thrown at them, a couple of head knocks, a red card. I was happy the boys stayed nice and calm, and you could see they were working things out as they were going.


"It's really nice when you see the team perform without you but, at the same time, you want to be out there helping them perform," he said.


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