Brodie Retallick is back for Hawke’s Bay. Photo / Paul Taylor
The All Blacks’ victory over the Springboks at Ellis Park was a big step in the right direction – and it came thanks to several improvements in key areas.
It was the assessment on the
national team status of injured lock Brodie Retallick, who returns to play for Hawke’s Bay this weekend after a long stint on the sidelines with a facial injury.
After fracturing his cheekbone in the third Test against Ireland, Retallick had to undergo surgery and had to watch the last two Tests from home.
Addressing the Heraldthe 31-year-old said there were clear improvements in the team’s rebound win.
“You’d rather play than sit on the injured sideline, so it’s always a bit more difficult, but I thought Ellis Park was a step in the right direction,” he said.
“I thought they were playing a bit more loosely. We saw long-range breakouts by the outside backs finding space in the middle. The peloton – especially the tight fives – put on a good platform. They put a lot of pressure on their halfback with their box kicks and the scrum and the lineout worked well, if you get that platform right up front it allows the fullbacks to do their thing.
The All Blacks will face an almost identical team to their victory at Ellis Park on Saturday night against Argentina in Christchurch. The only change comes on the bench where Stephen Perofeta is in line to make his Test debut, replacing Beauden Barrett after the veteran five-eighth suffered a neck injury during a routine clean-up drill in training.
The test will be the team’s first since New Zealand Rugby put an end to the ongoing debate over whether Ian Foster was the right man to lead the All Blacks to the Rugby World Cup. next year in France, confirming that Foster would be at the helm until the end of the tournament.
Retallick backed the decision and hoped the win at Ellis Park was an indication of the potential Foster could take from his team.
“He’s a great person and he has an exceptional rugby brain and knowledge. From the head coach’s point of view, you’re not always so active in training, that’s why you have your assistants. But I think he’s the right person for He has a lot of experience in the environment and the culture and what he wants to achieve. I hope Ellis Park was a good step in the good direction.
With the All Blacks having their game against Argentina to play, Retallick is eager to return to the pitch domestically, making his first appearance for Hawke’s Bay in a decade when the side host North Harbour. It will only be his second appearance in a Ranfurly Shield match, having been part of an unsuccessful challenge against Taranaki in 2011.
Coming back from a face injury, Retallick said he wouldn’t hesitate to jump straight into his work and was looking forward to getting a few more minutes.
“I’m just looking to get playing time and consistency and then hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”