Christopher John Whitaker
- 747Wallaby Number
Chris Whitaker personified many good attributes during his rugby career, however his patience would stand out above all others.
Whitaker, yet another in the long line of talented Randwick scrum halves, was a clever tactician with great covering defensive skills and a quick, direct from the ground pass. He was a product of the Clovelly Junior Rugby Club and in his very early days in rugby union played at lock.
He graduated from Sydney Boys’ High School in 1992 but then waited more than four years to play his first game for New South Wales. In 1998, Whitaker was selected in the Wallaby match day squad for the opening six Tests but failed to make it onto the pitch. He eventually won a first Test cap, albeit in the final minutes, against South Africa in Johannesburg.
During his eight year career the Wallabies played 96 Tests, Whitaker won 31 caps - just five of which were in the run-on XV, and he remained unutilised on the bench in an incredible 50 internationals. To put that into perspective, as at the end of 2017, only 55 of the 920 Test capped Wallabies had ever played 50 or more Tests.
Whitaker attended two Rugby World Cups (1999 & 2003) and in his home tournament, against Namibia in Adelaide, deservedly became the 71st Wallaby to captain his country.
Whitaker won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Stephen Larkham at fly-half in the 15-29 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg. He played his first run-on XV Test at halfback and scored his first Test try in the 74-0 Rugby World Cup qualifier victory over Tonga in Canberra. Whitaker finished the year with three caps to his name.
He earned four caps and remained on the bench in each of the other nine internationals. Whitaker won selection to his first Rugby World Cup and started at No.9 in the 55-19 pool game win over the United States in Limerick.
Sam Cordingley was the back-up to George Gregan during the domestic Tests and the Tri Nations however Whitaker returned for the Spring Tour and picked up a single replacement cap against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Whitaker accumulated two caps, both from the bench, against Spain in Madrid and Wales in Cardiff.
Whitaker warmed the bench for the home series against France and the Tri Nations but did win two caps on the Spring Tour, one of them as a replacement fullback against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
He won six Test caps and selection to his second Rugby World Cup. Whitaker became the 71st Wallaby to captain his country in the 142-0 defeat of Namibia in Adelaide.
Whitaker played two Tests and started for only time of his career against New Zealand in the 1st Test, 7-16 loss.
Whitaker earned a career high 11 caps in his final season of international rugby and 10 of those came as a replacement.