Whitelock wary of dangerous Chiefs

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Whitelock said throughout 26 years of Super Rugby, the Crusaders had an unresolved rivalry with the Chiefs because neither team had achieved dominance.


"It just shows that you can't take anything for granted and this week is exactly that," he said.


"Every time I've played the Chiefs whether it was in 2010 or last year, it's always competitive, it's always hard, it's always physical. That's not a Chiefs thing it's a New Zealand thing. We love to play against our neighbours, or people we know well in our country."


The Chiefs always had a competitive pack, and there was extra flavour because his long-time locking partner Brodie Retallick was involved.


But Whitelock said because of the nature of modern rugby, they were not always paired off against each other, especially as players moved around lineouts a lot. However, he was a tough competitor.


"Brodie knows what his strengths are, he's a very intelligent football player and brings that physical edge, so that's what he wants to do. It's on us as Crusaders to not allow him to play to his strengths, but sometimes talking about it is one thing and doing it is another," he said.


Whitelock said Argentine international and loose forward Pablo Matera had been like any player coming in from outside in that he took a couple of weeks to settle in. But he felt the time spent in Queenstown had been perfect for him because he was around the players a lot more.


"He was around the guys all the time, and that's why he's playing so well now. He's comfortable in the environment," he said.



Fletcher Newell, who is starting for the side, was looking forward to the tight exchanges with the strong Chiefs' combination.


The former New Zealand Under-20 representative has several teammates from that side in the opposition. It had been inspiring to see two of them, lock Tupou Vaa'i and second five-eighths Quinn Tupaea make their All Blacks debuts.


And he was looking forward to renewing front-row contact with Ollie Norris and George Dyer.


"It's going to be awesome to buck heads with them," he said.


"They're quality players and it's awesome to see George get his debut for the Chiefs this weekend. When we get on the field nothing is held back but when we get off the field it is always good to have a yarn," he said.


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