Bledisloe Cup 2020: All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock likely to return for third test in Sydney

Linchpin lock Sam Whitelock seems likely to bolster the All Blacks line-up for Saturday's third Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney on Saturday.

Whitelock missed the second test at Eden Park with delayed concussion symptoms suffered during the first-test draw in Wellington, but is confident that he'll be back in the frame for selection for this weekend, if he gets through Tuesday's contact training session.

"The timing of [the injury] wasn't too bad," Whitelock says. "I obviously missed the second test and then had that extra week, so I've had a bit of extra time to take it slowly.

"I've been training fully, so I just need some boys to tackle… so hopefully I'll get through that."

Rookie Tupou Vaa'i filled in admirably during Whitelock's absence, but the starting side will welcome back the experience and leadership of the 117-test veteran with open arms, with Ardie Savea  on paternity leave and stalwart prop Joe Moody also in doubt.

The All Blacks need to at least draw one of the final two Bledisloe tests to clinch the Cup for a 17th straight year and although they've handily won their past three tests in Sydney, they have just a 58 percent success rate there.

"They do turn up on their own turf and we're expecting a big battle," says hooker Dane Coles.

"Previous results don't count. They'll be up for it, and we have to match that and make sure we turn up again.

"Us not having the best success rate in Australia ensures we prepare really well to give ourselves a chance for Saturday.

"The intensity will probably raise from Eden Park, as they've so much on the line."

Physicality was the decisive area of  improvement during the 27-7 second test win and Coles realises they'll need to elevate that even further come Saturday.

"We took a bit of a punch in the nose in that first game and they dictated a lot of their game around the physicality," Coles notes.

"We knew we had to take a big step up in that department and bring some more intent. We did that at times, but we've still got a lot to improve in our game 

"We know what it looks like, but we still need to raise the bar and I'm sure Aussie will be doing the same."

Join us from 9:45pm Saturday for live updates of the third All Blacks v Australia Bledisloe Cup match