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Adam Whitelock’s baby joy ‘Three feels pretty perfect’

After years trying to conceive, followed by a devastating miscarriage, the rugby star and his wife Tiffany say third child Henry completes their family
Selina Nunn

As far as famous sporting families go, the Whitelock name goes hand in hand with rugby in Aotearoa.

So it’s no surprise that after welcoming three mini Whitelocks in just under four years, former Crusaders player Adam Whitelock and his wife Tiffany are often asked if they’re creating a mini rugby team of their own.

But the pair can only laugh, telling Woman’s Day their little family is complete with the arrival of baby Henry, who was born in October to the delight of his older siblings Sophia, four, and Louis, two.

The doting parents with lucky last Henry. “It was love at first sight.”

Henry William Naylor Whitelock

Born 15 October 2022

Weight 4.5kg

“I love having a little team of kids,” says Adam, 35. “And Henry is definitely cute, but I think three is the right number for us. It feels pretty perfect.”

As the second brother in the Whitelock family, Adam made his name playing for the Crusaders, Canterbury and the All Blacks Sevens, before spending four years in France with the Aviron Bayonnais team. All four Whitelock boys played for the Crusaders, with oldest brother George now a dad-of-three and back living on the family farm in Linton, near Palmerston North. Sam also has three children and is one of our longest-serving All Blacks, having played more than 140 tests since his debut in 2010. Adam’s youngest brother Luke plays rugby in France.

Whitelock line-up (from left): Luke, Adam, George and Sam.

The family remains close, with the entire extended whānau spending an unforgettable week at their bach on the Kāpiti Coast over the summer. “There are nine kids between us, so it’s a lot of fun when we all get together,” says Adam. “My parents love it.”

Like many professional sports players, retiring from the game and establishing a new career took some navigating, tells Adam, who married Tiffany in 2015. After a stint in dairy farming, he moved into banking, before taking up a role at Bayleys as a rural real estate agent a year ago.

Adam and Tiffany’s romantic 2015 nuptials brought the Whitelocks out in force. “It’s a lot of fun when we all get together,” says Adam.

“I’d played rugby since I was five years old and it was such a huge part of my life, with such incredible opportunities,” says Adam. “When you’re travelling the world, playing at a high level, meeting interesting people and experiencing different cultures, you exist in a bit of a bubble.

“It’s no secret that ex-professionals find it hard to finish because your identity is wrapped up in all that. For me, it’s been about trying a few things and giving things a go.”

Buying land of their own is definitely on the to-do list for the couple, but for now, Adam is loving the real estate world.

“I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity because it’s a job where I can really use all my skills. My accountancy degree, my networks, my people skills and my interest in farming all come together. It’s challenging too, which is a good thing.”

But as he welcomes us into the Sumner home he shares with Tiffany and their trio in Christchurch, it’s clear family life comes first for the devoted dad. Having children was something both he and Tiffany always wanted, but the path to parenthood wasn’t entirely straightforward.

A couple of years trying to conceive, followed by a devastating miscarriage, saw the couple turn to IVF treatment, which resulted in their firstborn Sophia.

“We call her our little miracle,” says Tiffany, 36, whose subsequent pregnancies happened naturally. “We were prepared for more IVF, but both Louis and Henry came along without much trouble at all. We feel so lucky we now have our three little babies. Every day, I feel so grateful for these guys because I love being a mum so much.”

They recall the day Henry made his arrival on 15 October 2022. It was eight days before his due date and Tiffany was booked in for an elective Caesarean several days later.

Tiffany and Adam say siblings Sophia and Louis are besotted with newcomer Henry.

But when she started having contractions in the middle of the night, she and Adam roused Tiffany’s parents to take care of the kids, then they went straight to the hospital, where Henry made his arrival at 6.30am.

“We were so excited to finally meet him,” says Tiff, who suffered from bad morning sickness right the way through the pregnancy. “I remember that moment where he was held up and I saw his cute little face for the first time. It was love at first sight.”

Adam says their wee man has slotted into family life beautifully. “He’s pretty chill – he just goes with the flow. He feeds a lot, but he also sleeps well, so that’s been good. We get so much joy from our kids.”

And the fact he’s their last has added to the specialness, adds Tiffany. “Just knowing there won’t be another baby makes having Henry feel that more lovely and special. It’s a cool feeling, actually.”

The couple smile as they recall the moment Sophia and Louis met their little brother for the first time. “They were very sweet and very gentle,” shares Tiffany. “Louis kept running around pulling at all the gadgets on the hospital bed and Sophia was so excited. She’s been incredible with Henry – she’s just like a little mother. She practises on her dolls and is so helpful.”

Adam describes his wife as a “super-mum”. She juggles motherhood with a part-time role in her parents’ swim school. While Adam works full-time, he’s determined to be as hands-on as possible when he’s at home.

“It’s the little things about being a dad that I love the most,” he says. “Like when I get home from work and they’re so excited, they come running to the door with big hugs. Or going to the beach with them, building sandcastles and splashing around. Even sitting around giving them breakfast in the morning is fun, even if it’s total chaos.”

Big brother Louis wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

Both older kids love throwing a rugby ball around with their dad and watching Uncle Sam play for the All Blacks, but it’s Louis who is showing the most passion for the game.

“He’s a mini Adam,” tells Tiffany. “He loves doing the haka. He was given a little All Blacks outfit and he didn’t take it off for days.”

Adam says he hopes his children inherit his passion for sport, but no matter what path they follow, the couple insists it’ll be up to them to find their own passions. Meantime, they’re simply grateful for their three little blessings.

“Just watching them grow up is such a cool thing,” says Adam. “Already their personalities are shining through and they’re all very different. It’s fun watching the three of them together and seeing the dynamic when they play. It’s very sweet. These are busy times, but it’s very special.”

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