Rugby World Cup 2019: Sam Whitelock endures another cancelled match, but backs World Rugby's decision

While having a rugby game cancelled will be something new for most of the All Blacks squad, for lock Sam Whitelock, it's a different story. 

In 2011, Whitelock was part of the Crusaders team, when the devastating Christchurch earthquake struck, resulting in 185 deaths - among them Crusaders board member Phillip McDonald - and leading to a match against the Hurricanes being called off. 

He was also part of this year's team, when their match against the Highlanders was called off after the Christchurch attacks, which saw 51 people lose their lives.

Now, Whitelock is part of the All Blacks squad that had their final pool game at the Rugby World Cup against Italy cancelled, because of the impending landfall of Typhoon Hagibis.

"I've had a couple of Super Rugby games called off, the earthquake being one and shooting, and those you understand why," said Whitelock. 

"Rugby is a small thing. We get carried away with it in New Zealand, being so passionate, but sometimes the right thing is not playing. 

"There would be nothing worse than playing and innocent people getting hurt. We just have to play the cards that have been dealt to us." 

Along with the All Blacks v Italy match, the England v France match was also cancelled, while all four games on Sunday, including the highly-anticipated Scotland v Japan match, are under threat. 

Whitelock said it was a "weird feeling" when the team learned of World Rugby's decision not to play the game - the first time a World Cup match has been called off. 

"We heard it might get cancelled and we all thought 'surely not'.

"I've never been in a typhoon, so you have to take on the advice from the people who know best. 

"As players, we would have loved to have played. People have travelled all around the world to see these games, but rugby is second, people's safety is more important.

"We would have loved to have played, but we don't make these decisions. We're feeling it as players and they [Italy] will be too." 

The All Blacks now must wait until Saturday, October 19 for their next match, which could be against Ireland, Scotland or Japan. 

That will be 16 days between games for New Zealand, who fielded a second-string team to Namibia in their previous match on October 6. 

"We play two weeks, then have a week off during the Rugby Championship, so we will be in a good space.

"The important thing is to trust our medical staff and trainers. They'll replicate some in-game things, which will be close to live intensity."  

"We're ready to go now, so hopefully we can take some momentum from those earlier games."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 11:15pm Friday for live updates of the Wallabies v Georgia Rugby World Cup clash.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz