All Blacks great insists ‘mere mortals’ should not ‘question’ Scott Robertson over possible Sam Whitelock call

Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains “can’t see a downside” to Sam Whitelock returning to New Zealand and restarting his international career.

Whitelock, the All Blacks’ most-capped player, turned 35 during last year’s world championship, but sources indicate that Scott Robertson still sees him as a valued asset at the highest level.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Robertson is attempting to resurrect the renowned second-rower ahead of the July series against England.

Contract information.
Following the Rugby World Cup, the legendary lock’s Test career appeared to be finished after signing a contract with Pau in the Top 14.

Initially, it was touted as a two-year contract, however

according to the NZ Herald, it is a one-year commitment with the option of a second season.

Sam Whitelock back for one last crusade? | RNZ News

Should Whitelock therefore head home at the conclusion of the northern hemisphere campaign, Mains insists that it would be of benefit to the All Blacks and the young forwards coming through.

“Sam Whitelock sits atop the great New Zealand All Black locks alongside Colin Meads so let’s get very clear,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“That guy is so loaded with experience and knowledge around the role of a lock that I think Scott Robertson is using his mana and bringing him in to help bring the young locks along.

All Blacks legend has his French Top 14 debut put on hold : PlanetRugby
“They’re going to have a couple of young players in the All Blacks this year, they’re gonna have to, and I think it makes very good sense.

“On top of that, who are us mere mortals to question what Scott Robertson wants to do? He knows about not only Sam Whitelock but about what’s required at that level of rugby.”

Opinion: An All Blacks recall for Sam Whitelock is a simple decision.

After Retallick and Whitelock, Robertson is likely considering his next long-term lock combination, as Brodie Retallick is currently working abroad.

Scott Barrett has stayed with the Crusaders and will provide vital experience in that position, although his Test partner for the 2019 season is unknown.

Patrick Tuipulotu, who has almost 40 caps, may join Barrett, but the All Blacks’ choices below him are limited.

That is why Robertson is apparently hoping Whitelock, whom he coached in Christchurch, will return to New Zealand.

“I wouldn’t say we have a hole (at the lock). Because Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock have been with us for so long and served our country so effectively, we only think we have a small vacancy,” Mains said.

“Let’s hope (Patrick) Tuipulotu gets well and stays injury-free because he’s a very good player.”

“There are other young locks around who are just waiting for an opportunity, much like every new All Blacks player, for someone like Sam Whitelock to fast-track them to become an experienced lock.

“What better coaching could a young lock get than from someone like Sam Whitelock?”

All Blacks’ Options
When asked which young second-rowers could make it in the international stage, Mains said, “Pari Pari Parkinson impresses me.” (Quinten) Strange, who plays for the Crusaders, impressed me. They’re huge, tall, and athletic.

“They may well be players who could step up to the next level.”

As for Whitelock, he is apparently weighing the offer, although it is totally reasonable if the famous All Blacks second-rower prefers to simply pick up his rich salary and finish his career in France.

“I believe he will want to do everything he can to help the All Blacks. “He just strikes me as that type of person,” Mains said.

“Having said that, he’s still a tremendously good rugby player, and I believe he’ll play in Tests, which will be a fantastic learning opportunity for whoever is locking with him.

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