Early return for Retallick
New Zealand will welcome back star second row Brodie Retallick for tomorrow’s game against Namibia at Tokyo Stadium.
The former World Rugby player of the year is to play his first game since suffering a serious shoulder injury during the Rugby Championship, but is returning ahead of schedule, after the All Blacks had originally estimated that Retallick would be available only for the knockout stages of the tournament.
Retallick admitted: “I’m pretty nervous, to be fair. Obviously it’s been a long stint. Before then, I’d only had a couple of games at the end of Super Rugby.
“Although the training we’re doing here is pretty game-like, there’s still that little bit of nervousness about it being some time since I played. Obviously we wanted to make sure [the injury] was in the right spot before I went out and played without risking it. But to be able to get a run this weekend is important.
“I obviously want to push my case moving into the tournament by getting some game time – it’s been 10 weeks since the injury happened.”
Jordie Barrett will make a first Test start at fly-half in an All Blacks side featuring 12 changes from the 63-0 win over Canada.
New Zealand Namibia Kick-off