Sam Whitelock

Sam Whitelock staying with New Zealand Rugby

Under the terms of the deal Whitelock will take a break from New Zealand rugby at the end of this year to take up a short-term contract with Japanese club Panasonic. He will miss the 2020 Super Rugby season and return to New Zealand at the end of the Japanese Top 14 season in May 2020.

The re-signing of the two-time Rugby World Cup champion adds him to a core group of players who have now committed to New Zealand Rugby.

Sam Whitelock to miss Blues game

Vice-captain Crotty will link with Jack Goodhue in the midfield.

The Crusaders have made six changes and one positional switch from the side that beat the Waratahs last week.

In the front row, Tim Perry makes his return from a hamstring injury and will start at loosehead prop. All Black Owen Franks also returns to the starting side this week, and Mike Alaalatoa moves to the reserves.

Whitelock and Crotty back for Crusaders

Coach Scott Robertson has made five changes to the starting line-up from the side that lost to the Highlanders in Dunedin last Saturday night.

Both Whitelock and Crotty suffered head knocks in the Crusaders loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington two weeks ago and missed the Highlanders match.

Prop Tim Perry returns to start pushing Wyatt Crockett to the bench.

Flanker Billy Harmon will earn his second start replacing All Black Matt Todd, who took a knock to the ribs and will be rested.

Whitelock up for Boks battle

Saturday's test against the Springboks at Albany's QBE Stadium will be Whitelock's 15th appearance against the South Africans (and 91st test in all). You get the impression he could play them all back in his head. He has been on the winning side in 12 of them.

"It's one of those awesome test matches you hope you can be part of," said the 30 year-old after Tuesday's training hitout at Alexandra Park. "If you go back through history between South Africa and New Zealand, those are the games people talk about 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. No doubt this one will be the same.

Whitelock may get call-up

Veteran All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock might be in line for a lift in leadership now the vice-captaincy role is vacant after Ben Smith started his sabbatical.

Whitelock, 28, who could play his 91st test if selected for Saturday night's test against Argentina in New Plymouth, impressed most observers with the way he handled the captaincy of the Crusaders through their Super Rugby triumph this season and appears the natural back-up to Kieran Read.     

Retallick's sobering warning

Retallick, who has formed arguably one of the world's most feared locking partnerships with Sam Whitelock over the last five years, wasn't thrilled with the way the All Blacks lineouts functioned during the 1-1 series draw against the British and Irish Lions.

At 2.04m there aren't too many people that Retallick has to look up to, but the Wallabies' Rory Arnold, who will partner Adam Coleman in the boiler room, is 4cm taller than the Kiwi.

Wallabies to target Retallick and Whitelock

The formidable duo of Retallick and Whitelock has been one of the great strengths of the world champion All Blacks' forward machine in recent years and both are used to winning against the Wallabies.

Whitelock has tasted defeat just three times in 20 games Tests against Australia and Retallick once in 15.

Rising Wallabies lock Rory Arnold acknowledged getting an edge over the duo was key for his team.

"They've been world-class locks now for a number of years, so if we want to dominate up front we know we've got to go at those blokes," said Arnold.

Whitelock staying until 2020

Whitelock is the All Blacks' most capped lock with 84 appearances since his debut against Ireland in 2010.

The 28-year-old dual-world-cup winner has established himself as one of New Zealand's premier locks alongside Chiefs big man Brodie Retallick in the black jersey.

Whitelock said staying in New Zealand was an easy decision.

"When I considered whether my immediate playing future was here in New Zealand and Christchurch, I didn't need to look far for the answer.

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock chased by wealthy French club Toulon

Whitelock, who is off contract with NZ Rugby after the All Blacks' series against the British and Irish Lions this winter, would be a prized signing for Toulon who are on the hunt for a world-class second rower to embed in their pack.

If Boudjellal managed to snare the signature of the 28-year-old Whitelock, who has played 84 tests since 2010, it would be considered a blow for NZ Rugby who have recently re-signed valued employees Ben Smith and Israel Dagg.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read has already signalled he is keen to re-sign through to the 2019 World Cup.