All Blacks plot to get Re­tal­lick up to speed

The New Zealand Herald - - Front Page - Patrick McKendry in Tokyo

The All Blacks’ last Rugby World Cup pool game, against Italy to­mor­row, has been been called off due to the loom­ing Typhoon Hag­ibis bear­ing down on Ja­pan, mean­ing we ad­vance to the quar­ter-fi­nals. Other games are un­der threat, send­ing the tour­na­ment into dis­ar­ray.

The lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare for fans and ABs. A NZ fi­nal win would be ‘for­ever tainted’. Warn­ing to World Rugby over can­cel­la­tions. What it means for a re­turn­ing Brodie Re­tal­lick.

The ques­tion over our next op­po­nents.

The big World Cup dan­ger for the All Blacks as they get to grips with the can­celled Italy game is how they get Brodie Re­tal­lick back up to speed fol­low­ing his re­turn from a dis­lo­cated shoul­der be­cause his next match will be a quar­ter-fi­nal.

It is a trap they fell into at the end of last year af­ter the man gen­er­ally agreed to be the best lock in the world couldn’t back up his su­perb per­for­mance against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham the next week against Ire­land in Dublin.

His full range of abil­i­ties were on dis­play in a very tight test in south west Lon­don af­ter he made a re­turn off the bench against Ja­pan in Tokyo in his pre­vi­ous match but it turned out he was un­der-done con­di­tion­ing wise and he couldn’t find the same lev­els at Aviva Sta­dium as the All Blacks lost to the Ir­ish for the sec­ond time in two years.

Re­tal­lick would have been pen­cilled in for 60 min­utes or so against Italy in Toy­ota Sta­dium to­mor­row and now the All Blacks have to find an­other way to repli­cate that in­ten­sity, but, in an in­ter­view with the Her­ald, coach Steve Hansen said it was un­der con­trol.

The Eng­land v France game in Fukuoka is the other game to be scrapped as the au­thor­i­ties pre­pare for the ar­rival of Typhoon Hag­ibis, with the Ja­pan v Scot­land game in Yoko­hama on Sun­day at risk but go­ing ahead at the mo­ment. A can­cel­la­tion of the highly-an­tic­i­pated game be­tween the hosts and Scots would be hugely sig­nif­i­cant as it would re­sult in Scot­land miss­ing out on a chance to qual­ify for a quarterfin­al; Hansen de­scribed it as a disaster. “It’s not re­ally an is­sue be­cause you just mod­ify his train­ing to com­pen­sate for that,” Hansen said of Re­tal­lick.

He wouldn’t elab­o­rate on what the mod­i­fi­ca­tions would look like but they are likely to in­volve a phys­i­cal bat­ter­ing for the 28-year-old who has played 78 tests. Hansen ruled out bring­ing in an­other team for an op­posed train­ing ses­sion, say­ing he would use all 31 play­ers to pre­sum­ably pro­vide some­thing sim­i­lar.

“I’m not go­ing to say what we’ll do,” he said. “But we mod­i­fied train­ing to­day and then we’ll mod­ify it to­mor­row be­cause to­mor­row was down to be a cap­tain’s run. You cer­tainly don’t do too much at a cap­tain’s run and so we’ll have to do more. Satur­day ob­vi­ously we won’t be able to train and then Sun­day we’ll look at what we can do.

“Dur­ing this pe­riod we just have to adapt and ad­just and be as pos­i­tive and smart as we can be.”

Mid­fielder Jack Good­hue is the other All Black in need of game time fol­low­ing his re­turn from a ham­string prob­lem. Good­hue played the first half against Canada and 60 min­utes against Namibia. He would have got through 80 against Italy but given his rel­a­tive youth — he’s 24 — and place in the back­line rather than pack, a huge amount of con­tact work prob­a­bly wasn’t such a pri­or­ity for him.

For Hansen, the key is to quickly adapt and re­tain the pos­i­tive at­ti­tude that has taken the All Blacks to their last two World Cup tri­umphs. He said all con­tin­gen­cies had been planned for, in­clud­ing a can­celled game.

“It’s not that big an is­sue for us be­cause we’ve qual­i­fied,” he said.

“It’s a po­ten­tial disaster for Scot­land be­cause if they miss out on play­ing then it’s a big one. But life’s not fair and so why would sport be fair? Some­times it tests your re­solve and you just have to take it on the chin and ac­cept it even though you don’t like it.”

Dur­ing this pe­riod we just have to adapt and ad­just and be as pos­i­tive and smart as we can be.

Steve Hansen

Jack Good­hue is in need of game time fol­low­ing his re­turn from a ham­string prob­lem.

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