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Senior role fits Whitelock well

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Sportal.co.nz     13 Jun 2012     Getty Images

The presence of vastly experienced Brad Thorn and Ali Williams in recent years has left Whitelock playing second fiddle but that changed in the first Test against Ireland in Auckland last Saturday.

With 59-test veteran Thorn now plying his trade in both Japan and Britain and Williams, who has 74 Test caps, consigned to the bench last Saturday, Whitelock (25 caps) was partnered in the second row by debutant Brodie Retallick.

They formed part of an All Blacks pack which earned praise for their diligence in the set pieces and Whitelock commended the 21-year-old Retallick for him strong first-up showing.

"Brodie was awesome. Everyone out there is a leader and he took that form he had shown during the Super campaign into that game and that made my job really easy. He's playing well and I can just worry about my own role," Whitelock said after the All Blacks finished training in bleak conditions in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Whitelock said he was looking forward to playing the second Test against Ireland in his home city on Saturday night. His first Test was against Ireland in New Plymouth almost to the day two years ago and he marked his debut with two tries off the bench.

"It is pretty special to come home during Test week. To run out on Saturday with the team is going to be awesome and I think all of Christchurch and the Canterbury region are going to really enjoy it.

"Obviously last year during the World Cup we had a week down here, but that was almost a tease for them. We had the week but not the Test match but it is the whole hog now."

Whitelock said there had been some talk about what Christchurch had suffered with the catastrophic earthquakes, but the focus was on winning the Test.

"We're here to do a job and it doesn't matter whether we are playing here, Dunedin, Auckland or anywhere. We've got to make sure we front up and play really well."

While the set pieces went well for the All Blacks in the first Test, Whitelock said there was still room for improvement.

"More or less it was a good night for us, but there still things to work on and we probably want to be a bit more polished and a little crisper with a few things."