It will be the 90-Test capped veteran's 15th Test against the Springboks and his 91st overall.
And even though the 28-year-old has been on the winning side against South Africa 12 times, he respects the Boks, especially his opposite number.
The 25-year-old Etzebeth, who boasts 60 Tests, is currently captaining the Springboks in the absence of the injured Warren Whiteley.
"He's developed massively from when he first arrived. He was similar to myself and made the starting line-up when he was quite young,amp;" Whitelock told the Stuff.co.nz website.
"It's always a steep learning curve for any player, but he's really grown and evolved in that leadership role, and seems to be really enjoying it. When you're enjoying your rugby, normally you're playing great rugby."
Saturday's Test is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time), with both teams to name their sides on Thursday.