New Zealand Rugby's Player of the Year Sam Whitelock says playing alongside his brother in the All Blacks' final test of 2017 was his rugby highlight for the year.
Whitelock took home the Super Rugby and Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year awards at last night's ceremony, beating out winger Rieko Ioane and Black Ferns loose forward and sevens skipper Sarah Goss.
With a stunning season of achievements behind him, the 96-test veteran told the Radio Sport Breakfast the best memory he would take from this year would be playing alongside his brother Luke in the All Blacks' 33-18 win over Wales in Cardiff.
"That's something that we've always dreamed about as little kids, as cliché as that sounds, but to actually achieve it and do it, it was amazing."
"To have him out there and to have mum and dad out in the stands was very very special," he told Radio Sport.
"It was a massive year, I played a lot of rugby but enjoyed every moment of it."
Whitelock played a key role in the All Blacks this year as he carried a huge load on the northern Tour without locking partner Brodie Retallick, and in their final test, captained the All Blacks for the first time in Kieran Read's absence.
The lock said growing up watching former All Black Norm Maxwell inspired him to put everything out on the line and showed him how to step up in those crucial moments.
"I wanted to be Norm Maxwell, I was a tall skinny white boy and he was the guy that went out there and I think he used to break people in half the way he tackled and the way he put his body on the line, so he was the All Black I tried to copy and mimic."
"That was the childhood hero growing up and I was really lucky to meet him a few years ago and got to know the man behind the player," he said.
Now labelled one of the most experienced members of the squad, Whitelock said goal setting was a key practice that set him up to achieve greatness.
"I know setting those goals, sometimes they were probably too high up there but it really set me up to hopefully strive for something that I thought was out of reach."
"That's something that definitely has stuck with me."
With the All Black season over for the year, Whitelock has flown back to Christchurch to spend Christmas with his family and will head back into pre-season training in late January.