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Change of role for Whitelock

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Friday, October 8, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

With elder brother George, the Canterbury captain and open-side flanker, ruled out of the top-of-the-table 11th round ITM Cup clash through a medial ligament strain, Matt Todd will wear the No.7 jersey with Sam Whitelock taking over his position. Halfback Any Ellis assumes the captaincy.

Whitelock is one of three changes to the team which scored maximum points against Otago at Carisbrook last Saturday. Tight-head prop Peter Borlase replaces Andrew Olorenshaw in the front row and strapping centre Robbie Fruean renews his midfield
partnership with Sonny Bill Williams in place of Ryan Crotty.

Former Southland hooker, Corey Flynn, was named to start against his old province after recovering from a sternum injury, but the luckless All Blacks rake injured a calf muscle while lineout throwing at the end of Canterbury's final training on Thursday and Steve Fualau wins back the No.2 jersey.

Although Whitelock has not played as a flanker since high school days, the rangy 21-year-old said he was looking forward to what was an exciting challenge.

"The others loosies have been really good at training – Ash [Parker], Nasi [Manu] and Toddy [Matt Todd] have been very helpful and even George has been hobbling around barking instructions."

Whitelock said he was ready for action after five weeks away from the game during which he was restricted to road running and gym work.

"I'm probably jumping into the fire coming back against Southland. They're playing some really good rugby, but to play rugby is what everybody wants to do and to play against one of the best teams is exactly what I want to do as well so I can't wait."

Whitelock had been on the field for the last 20 minutes as a substitute when Canterbury handed over the shield after its 3-9 loss to Southland last year.

"That was pretty gut-wrenching. It's never nice to say goodbye to it so hopefully it comes back to us this time.

"The Ranfurly Shield does funny things to you – all the guys are pretty excited and there's a little bit more of an edge which is always good as it shows we're almost ready."

Canterbury coach Rob Penney was confident Whitelock would readily adapt to the flanker's role.

"He's a gifted athlete with a massive work-rate and has got all the attributes you want as a number six."

Penney said Canterbury had to be at its best to bring home the shield as Southland had shown it treasured the time-honoured trophy.

"Southland is a tenacious, tough team. They've got a mature group and on the back of some really tough matches they've come out on the right side of the ledger. They've got a lot of resilience and that’s what you need to be a good shield holder."

Although Southland upset Canterbury at AMI Stadium last year, the record book is very much against the Stags. It was only their second success since 1981 with the other win coming at Invercargill in 2003.

Team:

1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Steve Fualau, 3.Peter Borlase, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Isaac Ross, 6.Sam Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Nasi Manu, 9.Andy Ellis (c), 10.Colin slade, 11.Telusa Veainu, 12.Sonny Bill Williams, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Tu Umaga-Marshall, 15.Sean Maitland

Reserves: 16.Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18.Ash Parker, 19.Brendon O'Connor, 20.Willi Heinz, 21.Stephen Brett, 22.Ryan Crotty