Rugby World Cup: All Blacks coach Ian Foster calls for peformance to honour Sam Whitelock milestone against Namibia

New Zealand need to put in a performance worthy of the occasion in their World Cup clash against Namibia, when Sam Whitelock plays his 148th test to equal Richie McCaw's record for the All Blacks, said coach Ian Foster.

A World Cup winner in 2011 and 2015, Whitelock has been named in the second row with longtime partner Brodie Retallick in a much-changed side tasked with getting the All Blacks back to winning ways, after successive losses to South Africa and France.

"He has been a warrior for this team for a long time and to equal someone like Richie is a massive achievement," said Foster of the 34-year-old lock, who made his test debut in 2010.

Sam Whitelock and Ian Foster.
Sam Whitelock and Ian Foster. Photo credit: Photosport

"We all know how much it means for him to pull on a black jersey and [it will be] a very special occasion, one that we have to make sure we put a performance on that gives that record a lot of respect."

Ardie Savea will captain the side in the absence of Sam Cane, who withdrew before last week's loss to France with a back problem and is being managed back to fitness.

Injuries also ruled out centre Jordie Barrett, flanker Shannon Frizell and prop Tyrel Lomax, while loose forward Ethan Blackadder only recently arrived in France, as a replacement for winger Emoni Narawa.

"We had to adapt based on injuries and who is coming back, but we are pretty satisfied that we have a team to rebound from round one," added Foster.

Flyhalf Damian McKenzie and scrumhalf Cam Roigard have been brought in to steer the backline, with the former making his World Cup debut and the latter a first test start.

"We just want him to run the game how we want to play it and I'm sure he will," said Foster of the livewire McKenzie. "He's keen and he's very clear about what we want to achieve."

David Havili will combine with Anton Lienert-Brown in midfield, while power runners Leicester Fainga'anuku and Caleb Clarke get their chance on the wings.

New Zealand thrashed Namibia 71-9 at the last World Cup and nothing less than another big win in Toulouse will settle the nerves of the notoriously skittish All Blacks fans.

"It doesn't really matter who you put out in the 23, the black jersey we're blessed to wear demands everything," said Fainga'anuku.

"We want to win games to get ourselves a playoff spot and give us the best shot of winning this World Cup."


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