Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock on lineout watch
Saturday's Super Rugby final may be the first time the Crusaders and Waratahs have clashed this season, but Sam Whitelock is no stranger to the Sydney side's lineout.
The 2.02m lock has spent plenty of time poring over the tapes of the Waratahs' lineout, looking for areas the Crusaders' forwards can exploit.
"I've seen a couple of things that they do, but they also do a lot of things really well so it's about making sure we come up with a plan to stop what they are doing or influence their game."
Whitelock, who has never won a Super Rugby final, has been around long enough to know finals are usually won upfront.
Key lineout man for the Waratahs Stephen Hoiles was noticeably beaten in the air at times by the Brumbies at the back and front of the lineout in the 26-8 semifinal.
The turnovers did not go unnoticed by Whitelock.
"The boys do their homework and obviously I've done mine."
In the Crusaders' semifinal win over the Sharks, Whitelock was able to pinch three lineout throws from the opposition.
Whitelock also noticed that the Brumbies were able to push the Waratahs' scrum around at times in the semifinal.
"Without going through all the old cliches the forwards need to do well up front to allow the backs to play their game so if we front up really well set piece wise, hopefully the backs can do what they normally do."
The Crusaders' season has peaked at the right time.The set piece is one area where there has been rapid improvement and it will be an area where the Crusaders should be confident of an advantage.
But Whitelock said Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder and his assistant Dave Hewett were not 100 per cent happy with the team's set pieces.
"There's always things to improve on, so we're always trying to do that. If you are ever happy you'd probably be a little bit worried," he said.
Whitelock is excited about throwing his big frame on the line again despite an already long season where he has had a harder workload than most.
Saturday's final will be game 17 of Super Rugby this season and he has played three test matches.
"The body is holding up really well. It's something that as a player you pride yourself on being able to get up for every game and make sure you do the things off the field that people don't see."
Whitelock said he was sensible with what he did away from rugby, with sleep, diet and looking after his body.
"Sometimes sitting at home on the couch is the best place to be."
Although he has been named in the All Blacks squad for the upcoming rugby championship, Whitelock has not thought about the possibility of being rested during the international series.
"I haven't even thought about next week; it's all about this week."
And he is unlikely to ask for a break.
"I enjoy playing all the time. We're rugby players for a reason and this is what we love doing and everyone's the same so I'm sure if everyone had the opportunity to keep playing, I'm sure they would all take it."