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Whitelock, Burke, Fihaki join Barbarians

Sam Whitelock All Blacks rugby
Sam Whitelock will make his Barbarians debut against Fiji at Twickenham. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

Former All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock and current Crusaders backs Fergus Burke and Chay Fihaki have been selected to play for Barbarians FC.


The trio, who were teammates with the Crusaders, have accepted invites for play for the prestigious international club in the Killik Cup match against Fiji at London's Twickenham on Saturday (kick-off 4.15am Sunday NZ Time).


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Whitelock, the all-time leader in appearances for the All Blacks with 153 and a two-time Rugby World Cup winner, has announced his retirement after this season, following one season playing for Pau in the French Top 14.


“I’ve always wanted to represent the Barbarians, so I am delighted that now I have the opportunity to do it,” Whitelock, 35, said.


“I can’t wait to experience a week with the BaaBaas, and it’s very exciting for me to be doing something for the first time after such a long career in rugby so far. The Barbarians is a select group. You have to be invited to play, and to get that invitation now is very humbling.


“I’m looking forward to getting to know a few of the guys I have played against throughout my career. Spending a week with the group will be special – it’s always great to get to know different people, different cultures and different ways of doing things, with the backdrop of an important match at the end of the week."



Fihaki said playing Fiji at Twickenham would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

“I’m just really grateful to be invited to play,” Fihaki said. “Growing up I remember watching them play some pretty exciting rugby, so it’s always been something I wanted to be part of and I can’t wait to meet the team.”


Burke said pulling on the black and white jersey was “a bucket list moment for me as a rugby player”.

 

“They have such a rich history and playing for them is something I’m extremely excited for and honoured to do,” Burke said. “The opportunity also for me to taste a bit of London excites me, as I’ve never been to that part of the world.”

 

Burke, who made a late start to the Super Rugby Pacific season after overcoming an Achilles injury, has signed a long-term deal to join London club Saracens in the English Premiership after the 2024 NPC season.


Fergus Burke Chay Fihaki Crusaders rugby
Fergus Burke (left) and Chay Fihaki will play for the Barbarians at Twickenham. PHOTOS: CRUSADERS

Robbie Deans, now coach in Japan Rugby League One, will lead the Barbarians, the sixth time the former Crusaders coach will take the reins. His last Barbarians pep talk was in 2019 when they lost 43-33 to Wales.

 

That Cardiff game was current Crusaders fullback Johnny McNicholl’s first start and try for Wales, while another current Crusader Leigh Halfpenny kicked 13 points.


Saturday's match, the Barbarians only confirmed fixture in 2024, will follow the international between South Africa and Wales (kick-off 1am Sunday NZT).

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