Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

All Black profile: Sam Whitelock

Sam Whitelock has also proved he's versatile enough to cover the loose forward position. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sam Whitelock has also proved he's versatile enough to cover the loose forward position. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It did not take long for Sam Whitelock to catch the eye of the national selectors.

The athletic lock came of age last year playing in his debut Super Rugby season alongside Brad Thorn and was immediately rewarded with a national call-up.

He was originally named in the 2010 All Blacks squad for the opening tests of the international season as injury cover. But his early form was too good to overlook, marking his test debut with two tries against Ireland in New Plymouth, to earn a full promotion to the Tri-Nations team and then the All Blacks end-of-year tour squad.

Having quickly established himself as a key member of the squad, Whitelock has notched up 18 tests in little over 12 months.

He further proved his value this season by showing strong versatility in covering the loose forward position when the All Blacks got into injury strife in Brisbane last month, losing Kieran Read and Adam Thomson in the first half of their loss to Australia.

A member of the Whitelock rugby dynasty, the 22-year-old lock plays alongside elder brothers George, a one-test All Black in 2009, and Adam in the Crusaders.

Younger brother Luke, aged 20, captained the junior side to a fourth successive world title in Italy earlier this year and has been shortlisted for the IRB's Junior Player of the Year award.

The Weetbix bill in the Whitelock household was so astronomical, their mother jokes she sent her four boys to boarding school in Feilding as she couldn't afford to feed them.

* Position: Lock

* Tests: 18

* Born: October 12, 1988, in Palmerston North

* Stats: 2.02m, 102kg

* Teams: Canterbury and Crusaders

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