Whitelock equals NZ record with 148th cap at World Cup


Sam Whitelock will match Richie McCaw's record as the most capped New Zealander in his 148th Test after being named in a much-changed All Blacks team for the World Cup clash against Namibia.

The 34-year-old, a World Cup-winner in 2011 and 2015, will line up on Friday (Saturday AEST) with longtime second-row partner Brodie Retallick, who made an earlier return than expected from a knee injury off the bench in the tournament opener.

Only the recently-retired Alun Wyn Jones, who won 158 caps for Wales and 12 for the British & Irish Lions at lock, has played more Tests than Whitelock and his former All Blacks captain McCaw.

New Zealand coach Ian Foster made a string of changes to his team from last week's tournament opener as the All Blacks look to get back to winning ways after successive defeats by South Africa and France.

Ardie Savea skippers the side in the absence of Sam Cane, who withdrew just before the opening loss to the hosts with back spasms and is being managed back to fitness.

New Zealand thrashed Namibia 71-9 at the last World Cup and nothing less than another big win in Toulouse on Friday will settle the nerves of the notoriously skittish All Blacks fans.

"He has been a warrior for this team for a long time and to equal someone like Richie is a massive achievement," Foster said of Whitelock's achievement.

"The 148th time is a very special occasion, one that we make sure we put a performance on that gives that record a lot of respect and celebrate it with him afterwards."

Savea praised Whitelock's attitude.

"He's been around a long time. He's adapted and grown," Savea said. "Something else I've observed about Sam is how he is able to relate to everyone and try and understand other people and other cultures."

Damian McKenzie has the No.10 jersey. In his 43rd test, he will make his World Cup debut with two others, halfback Cam Roigard and wing Caleb Clarke. McKenzie and Roigard will start together for the first time.

New Zealand team: Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard, Ardie Savea (capt), Dalton Papali'i, Luke Jacobson, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ofa Tu'ungafasi 

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett, Tupou Vaa'i, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga, Rieko Ioane.