Sam Whitelock does not hesitate in drawing comparisons between Ethan Blackadder and his well-known father, Todd.
Blackadder was one of five rookies named in the first All Blacks squad of the year on Monday alongside Crusaders team-mate George Bower who received a call up as cover for prop Joe Moody last year but did not take the field.
One of the standout figures through this year's Super Rugby season, Blackadder deservedly forced his way into the congested All Blacks loose forward mix, nudging out fellow Crusader Cullen Grace in the process.
Blackadder brought a relentless physical edge to his defensive duties in particular this season to put two injury-ravaged years, where he was restricted to 10 Super Rugby games, behind him.
Whitelock, named All Blacks captain for the three July tests against Tonga and Fiji and Rugby Championship while Sam Cane is sidelined, sees shades of former All Blacks lock and Crusaders coach Todd in his son.
"He plays the way his father played," Whitelock said of the 26-year-old Blackadder. "Growing up I watched Toddy play and Ethan is the same. He's been working hard on other aspects of his game. Over the last 12-to-18 months he's added that little bit of finesse with the offload or getting over the ball really well. That's his strength and he's working hard at that.
"The best thing about him is he doesn't need to know everything. He's the type of guy that says 'what do you want me to do and I'll go and do it'. That's why he's played so well and why he's been named in this first All Blacks squad. No doubt he'll have a big smile on his face and will be humble as always.
"All those guys their phones will be going crazy. Everyone who has been part of their rugby careers whether it was the under-5s or under-17 Bs the assistant coach will be sending messages and enjoying having that small part to play now they've become All Blacks."
Whitelock has captained the All Blacks six times in his 122 tests. While his leadership is not expected to be put under any form of intense pressure against Tonga and Fiji the Rugby Championship which features successive home tests against the world champion Springboks will be a monumental challenge.
"It is very humbling to be named captain for a short time. Hopefully I can have a positive influence where I can but it's never just one person it's always a group. We've got a great leadership of seven or eight guys who are captains in their own right.
"If you tried to do it all yourself you'd be knackered after two weeks and you'd need a break. It's good when you can divvy roles up and make sure everyone has their area to lead in. There's no point me trying to lead something that I know next to little about."
Despite turning 33 later this year the seemingly ageless Whitelock has been in superb form for the Crusaders this season. He missed two matches, but attributes his ability to keep producing consistent, world-class performances to the time away he had from the game last year.
"My body is in a great spot and I feel I'm playing pretty well too so I'm really happy with where I'm sitting at the moment.
"The biggest thing is enjoyment. What's really helped me is the lockdown here in New Zealand. I wasn't part of the Crusaders before I came back because I was still contracted in Japan.
"That was really nice. It gave me an opportunity to stop and spend time with my young family. It was really nice to get away from rugby. That's allowed me to come back now, feel good and be more efficient with my time so when I am involved in rugby you're present and it's the same at home."
This season looks very different to last year as the All Blacks seek to improve the 50 per cent win record in 2020. With tests against South Africa, Ireland and France on the agenda they will need Whitelock at the peak of his powers as he prepares to rekindle his locking partnership with Brodie Retallick.
"Last year we had six test matches and challenges in different ways with the way the world was and is. Fifteen test matches this year – fingers crossed we get to play all of them. You're going to need a lot of players to play 15 brutal test matches. It doesn't matter who we play against, where they sit in the world rankings or all those sorts of things, it's hard. We've got some great depth here in New Zealand so we can't wait to get out there."