All Blacks skipper Sam Whitelock says his Wallabies counterpart, Michael Hooper, had contacted him at the height of the Rugby Championship feud between New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia.
The remaining Rugby Champions fixtures were thrown into disarray last week when New Zealand pulled out of an away game against Australia, scheduled for Perth next Saturday, because of new Covid-19 restrictions.
In a statement, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) unilaterally announced the All Blacks’ two home Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa will not be played in New Zealand, and that the All Blacks would not be flying to Perth this weekend for the third Bledisloe Cup Test which was scheduled to be played at Optus Stadium on 28 August.
The decision left Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos, the former Sanzaar boss, livid and he expressed his disappointment in a subsequent statement.
While a solution has since been reached, with the remainder of the Rugby Championship set to be played in Queensland, Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby were first embroiled in a war of words, with RA threatening demand $5 million from NZR if they don’t show up for their scheduled Tests in Australia.
On Tuesday, Whitelock revealed that Hooper phoned him and the injured Sam Cane prior to their respective employers reaching an agreement.
He said Hooper initially contacted them by email before he decided to phone.
“It was like, ‘Bugger this – let’s just get on the phone and talk’,’’ Whitelock explained.
“It’s amazing how at times we probably caught up when playing Australia. You want to build up the intensity and stuff.
“But they are all great guys. It is great to have that connection with them. They are hurting at the moment and that is understandable.
“They are in camp at the moment. Hopefully, we are on the plane on Saturday and we can have a full Rugby Championship.’’
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