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Retallick on track to return in Rome

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Lynn McConnell     09 Nov 2016     Getty Images

The top-ranked locking pair were left in New Zealand to recover from concussion on Retallick's part and a hamstring injury for Whitelock.

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Retallick said his recovery had been going well and while he was feeling good he hadn't had any contact work yet. He would test that over the next few days and then it would be up to the coaches.

"So far, so good in terms of the gym and running and stuff like that," he said.

Getting through the contact to ensure he was all clear would be good and would help with his confidence, he said.

Whitelock said he wasn't quite ready to play yet. He had just started running and would be building up over the next few days before getting involved in more rugby preparation around scrums and lineouts.

"It's where it needs to be at the moment but I'm pretty impatient like everyone else," he said. Pushing it without being ridiculous would be his approach.

His running regime over the next few days would be critical to giving more of a time frame on his return to play.

Retallick said it was tough not being able to be part of the game in Chicago in the first instance but hard to also see the All Blacks lose. The team appeared to have bounced back and were looking forward to playing Italy to resurrect their fortunes.

Whitelock said their replacements had put in a lot of good work defensively but attention needed to be paid by the team to ensuring they weren't required to do so much on defence.

"I thought Scott [Barrett] came on and played really well. He's been doing it all year for the Crusaders and Canterbury and just carried on into it, scored a try and did what a good lock should do," he said.

Getting their hands on the ball early was a work on for this week because it allowed the All Blacks to play their game without defending.

"You can only defend for so long without the ball. Getting our hands on that and looking after it is one of the key things this week," he said.