Sam Whitelock signs off in style as England legend and New Zealand duo score doubles for Barbarians against outstanding Fiji

Adam Kyriacou
Sam Whitelock in action for the Barbarians against Fiji.

Sam Whitelock in action for the Barbarians against Fiji.

All Blacks legend Sam Whitelock signed off from rugby in style on Saturday as he led the Barbarians to a 45-32 victory over an impressive Fiji at Twickenham Stadium.

Try doubles from Lachlan Boshier, Jonny May and Leicester Fainga’anuku were added to by a crossing from Zach Mercer as an end-to-end game was won by the Barbarians.

Indeed, an under-strength Fiji side pushed the famous invitational outfit all the way in London as a Epeli Momo hat-trick and Kemu Valentini’s try saw them press for the win.

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However, it was to be the Barbarians‘ and Whitelock‘s day in the sunshine as the All Blacks stalwart received a rousing round of applause when he was replaced late on.

The 35-year-old put in an excellent shift and showed little signs of slowing down, which has led to many fans discussing whether he could continue playing at the highest level.

His partnership at lock with England international David Ribbans caught the eye at Twickenham but it was Boshier, May and Fainga’anuku who crossed for the Baa-baas.

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The trio were always looking for work as the wings appeared to relish their time in the jersey while flanker Boshier once again showed just what an under-rated player he is.

Crusaders’ Chay Fihaki also starred at full-back while Gael Fickou and Virimi Vakatawa – former France teammates – showed flashes of quality as they reconnected at centre.

However, perhaps the standout player at Twickenham was Momo, who claimed a wonderful hat-trick as a young and inexperienced Fiji proved that the future is bright.

Indeed, Fiji head coach Mick Byrne and his players will take a great deal from this narrow loss ahead of their upcoming Tests against Georgia and New Zealand.

But amidst all those takeaways from an entertaining game will be a lasting one of Whitelock’s departure as a true, evergreen, rugby union great hangs up his boots.

The teams

Barbarians: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Jonny May, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Danny Care, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Jack Cornelsen, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 David Ribbans, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Liam Mitchell, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Jonathan Joseph, 23 Cameron Woki

Fiji: 15 Vilimoni Botitu, 14 Epeli Momo, 13 Epeli Waqaicece, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Taniela Rakuro, 10 Caleb Muntz, 9 Peni Matawalu, 8 Elia Canakaivata, 7 Motikiai Murray, 6 Ratu Derenalagi, 5 Ratu Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Samuela Tawake, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Livai Natave
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Meli Tuni, 19 Isoa Nasilasila, 20 Kitione Salawa, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Kemueli Valetini, 23 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

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