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Lions a highlight for top Kiwis: Whitelock

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

<p>Sam Whitelock</p> © Getty

Sam Whitelock

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock believes the sheer desire of New Zealand's top players to face the British and Irish Lions will add to the tour's degree of difficulty.

On the eve of the Crusaders' match against the Lions in Christchurch on Saturday, the 84-Test veteran spoke of his own 12-year build-up to the high-powered clash.

Aged 16 and forging a promising school boy career at Feilding High School, Whitelock was captured by the quality on show from the 2005 midweek Lions, who crushed Manawatu 109-6 in Palmerston North.

"I remember sitting in the stands working out how old I'd be next time they're out," Whitelock said.

"I knew if I had a very good career and a lot of luck along the way, hopefully I'd get an opportunity."

Whitelock believes his fervour to face the combined side is shared by all his teammates at the Crusaders, who are unbeaten atop the Super Rugby tree.

He says moments after securing the dramatic 25-22 win over the Highlanders last weekend, a result which secured victory in the New Zealand Conference, his players began turning their attention to the Lions.

Promoted to Crusaders skipper this year, the veteran forward says he has enjoyed the role and would love nothing more than to lead the team to a Lions scalp and a Super Rugby title.

He was heartened by the character shown regularly throughout the season on the way to 14 wins from 14 starts.

Several of matches have been close, something Whitelock believes will hold them in good stead this weekend.

"The beauty of that is we've found a number of ways to win," he said.

"Hopefully it's not tight but if it is, we've been there before this season. There's a belief that if we play our game, we should be fine."

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