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All Blacks have the strength to switch things up, says Whitelock

Sam Whitelock
Sam Whitelock

By Nick Purewal

Sam Whitelock has warned England that New Zealand have the ability to win Saturday's World Cup semi-final by any means necessary.

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The All Blacks inflicted a record World Cup defeat on Ireland in Saturday's merciless 46-14 quarter-final victory in Tokyo.

Now the back-to-back defending champions will push their quest for an unprecedented third-straight World Cup crown to Yokohama, where they will meet Eddie Jones' England.

New Zealand shifted star fly-half Beauden Barrett to full-back in the summer and have reaped untold rewards of his twin-playmaker pairing with new number 10 Richie Mo'unga.

But the All Blacks battered Ireland in the tight exchanges on Saturday too, leaving second-row Whitelock purring on the all-court threat of boss Steve Hansen's men.

"It's the reality of playing rugby that there's so many different styles," said Whitelock.

"You can go out there and have an awesome backline and win games through them, or you can punt the ball up the tight five's jumper and play that way.

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"But I'd like to think us as a team have a few different strengths, and it's nice to use a few of those in different games.

"It's pretty cool to see guys stepping up on the biggest stage, it's always what you dream of but when it happens it's great.

"If someone puts in a big shot in defence everyone else just wants to get in there and put in one as big if not bigger."

Whitelock's engine room partner Brodie Retallick starred amid New Zealand's ruthless dismantling of Ireland, and all after almost missing the tournament in the first place with a serious shoulder injury.

Hailing Retallick's stylish return, Whitelock revealed the All Blacks are relishing the challenge to push themselves on to ever greater heights.

"It was great to have Brodie back, he put in a big shift," said Whitelock.

"It just shows his quality that he can get back in and straight away produce performances to that level."

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