Rugby World Cup: Sam Whitelock still coming to terms with All Blacks' caps record after overtaking Richie McCaw against Italy

Fresh from overtaking Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black, Sam Whitelock isn't sure if the label will ever feel right to him. 

On Saturday, 34-year-old Whitelock came off the bench in the All Blacks' huge victory over Italy and in doing so notched a 149th test cap, going past his former captain's tally of 148 appearances in the black jersey.

For a player who's been with the All Blacks for more than a decade, it feels like Whitelock is part of the furniture.

Whitelock is the only member of this All Blacks side to have played under three coaches, winning World Cups under Sir Graham Henry and Sir Steve Hansen. Winning a third under Ian Foster isn't completely out of the equation either, given the size of Saturday's win.

But this year will be the last of Sam Whitelock the All Black, as he prepares to join younger brother Luke at French side Pau next year. 

As far as any personal achievements go, Whitelock is content to play down the significance of test No.149, with a 150th test cap on the cards if he takes the field against Uruguay next Friday.

Sam Whitelock.
Sam Whitelock. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I keep getting asked the questions [about] what does it mean," Whitelock explained. "It hasn't sunk in yet, I don't think it ever will.

"I still find it weird walking down the street, and people want to stop and have a yarn about rugby.

"I just still see myself as the country kid that loved the game of rugby. That's how I'll always see it.

"My lovely family will tell me if I was getting ahead of myself too, that probably keeps me pretty well-grounded."

In a tournament that's seen Ireland and South Africa hog the limelight as the two titans of Pool B, the All Blacks have timed their run to perfection.

Barring an upset against Uruguay, the All Blacks will cruise into the quarter-finals. Should France stumble against Italy, the All Blacks will do the same - only as victors of Pool A.

And after becoming the first All Blacks side to lose a pool match when they fell to France in the tournament opener, Saturday's win was the statement the All Blacks needed to make.   

"In general, we wanted to put a line in the sand," he continued. "We've been talking about it for a while.

"World Cups are this way, you've got to evolve and adapt and grow. I thought we've kind of done that a little bit now.

"[But] the pressure's really on to be able to do it again next week, with a short turnaround.

"We can't get too ahead of ourselves. There's always going to be something there to work on. Them scoring right at the end is a coach's dream.   

"That gives them something straight away to drive the full 80-minute performance."

Join the All Blacks from 8am Friday for live updates of the All Blacks v Uruguay