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Whitelock looking good for Dublin rematch

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/11/2016 Angelo Risso

Sam Whitelock takes a high ball during All Blacks match © Getty Images/Zak Kaczmarek Sam Whitelock takes a high ball during All Blacks match All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock says he's optimistic his crocked ankle will recover in time for Saturday's revenge mission against Ireland.

The Irish were surprise 40-29 winners over the world champions in Chicago two weeks ago, deploying a precise set-piece game to end New Zealand's 18-game winning streak.

The victory also marked Ireland's first win over the All Blacks, having lost 27 and drawn one match since their first clash 111 years ago.

Both the 27-year-old Whitelock and locking partner Brodie Retallick, 25, missed that Test with ankle and concussion issues respectively, and were sorely missed.

The All Blacks wasted three lineouts in the first half alone and were uncharacteristically lax in defence, struggling to contain the oft-used Irish maul.

Whitelock told reporters on Monday he was yet to get the all-clear from team physios, but was feeling spritely and had followed his recovery plan to the letter.

He just needed to get through some scrummaging on the training paddock.

"We've first got to wait and see if I get selected and then if I can get through some of the things I haven't done yet," the Crusaders ace said.

"But if I get out there, I'd love to have the opportunity to put my best foot forward."

With last week's thumping win over Italy behind them, the All Blacks spent Monday morning going over the tapes from the Chicago match and discussing what went wrong.

Whitelock said the review was a candid affair, with coach Steve Hansen less than impressed with what his troops dished up in the Windy City.

They had been too easily bullied at the set-piece and made careless errors chasing the game.

"Steve drives it, but it's a buy-in from everyone, the whole squad has to be honest with themselves and their performance," Whitelock said.

Tighthead Owen Franks, who played nearly an hour and made five tackles in Chicago, echoed his teammate's thoughts.

The 28-year-old expected Ireland to head into the rematch in Dublin with a similar approach, attacking the tourists' set-piece and exploiting playmaker Johnny Sexton's kicking game.

Irish loosehead Jack McGrath would also be a handful.

"It was really fortunate for us that after the last performance we'll get another shot," the 120kg Franks said.

"They've got the monkey off their back and for them, the ultimate would be to back that up (because) that's the sign of a really good team, so there's pressure on us."

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