Rugby World Cup: Veteran lock Sam Whitelock named to equal most All Blacks caps against Namibia

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock will equal the record for most All Blacks caps, when his team take on Namibia in Rugby World Cup pool play at Toulouse.

The second-rower has been named in tandem with old mate Brodie Retallick to extend their world record combination to 66 tests, as coach Ian Foster names a largely second-string line-up to start against the 21st-ranked African side, still seeking their first win at their seventh world tournament.

Whitelock, 34, who takes up a contract with French club Pau next year, will likely never get the chance to chase the world record for test caps, currently held by former Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones at 170, including 12 for the British & Irish Lions.

Predictably, captain Sam Cane, prop Tyrel Lomax, flanker Shannon Frizell and midfielder Jordie Barrett have all been given more time to recover from various injuries. with New Zealand's next pool outing against Italy in two weeks.

Sam Whitelock in action for the All Blacks.
Sam Whitelock in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

Most of the players that started against France in the World Cup opener at Paris have also been spelled or dropped to the bench, with only Whitelock, Nepo Laulala, Dalton Papali'i, Ardie Savea, Anton Lienert-Brown and Beauden Barrett retaining their spots. Savea will again lead the side in Cane's absence.

"We are expecting a very tough Namibian side to test us on Friday," said Foster. "Whilst we were disappointed with the result in the first round, it hasn't moved our focus from what we need to do to in our pool games.

"This game is vital for us to grow and we can't wait to get to Toulouse and test ourselves."

Halfback Cam Roigard will get his first start in the No.9 jersey, while David Havili will return to the first XV, after a long injury layoff and cameo appearance off the bench against the French.

New Zealand have faced Namibia twice in World Cup play, handing out a 58-14 lesson at London in 2015 and 71-9 at Tokyo four years ago.

All Blacks: 1-Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Samuel Whitelock, 6-Luke Jacobson, 7-Dalton Papali’i, 8-Ardie Savea (c), 9-Cam Roigard, 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12-David Havili, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Caleb Clarke, 15-Beauden Barrett

Reserves: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Ethan de Groot, 18-Fletcher Newell, 19-Scott Barrett, 20-Tupou Vaa’i, 21-Aaron Smith, 22-Richie Mo’unga, 23-Rieko Ioane

Join Newshub at 7am Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Namibia World Cup pool clash