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New era for AllBlacks locks?

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James Mortimer     08 Sep 2012     Getty Images

Yet their selection shows that there are clearly high expectations in the All Blacks camp, dropping 'senior lock' Sam Whitelock to the bench, a strong move considering that it is the one position that doesn't boast high levels of experience in the squad.

With Brad Thorn overseas, and Ali Williams and Anthony Boric injured, it is a new dawn for the All Blacks second row.

Whitelock's non-selection was hailed as a move to give the 30-test lock some breathing room after a busy season, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also said that he felt his replacement in Retallick was "playing better" rugby.

It is a massive chance for two big locks, weighing over 240kg combined, and gives the fledging partnership the opportunity to make a claim for second row berths that are far from finalised.

"It's a very good challenge for us," Romano said.
 
"Brodie's been playing some good footy this year and obviously I have too to be selected for the All Blacks so it's just something that we are both really looking forward to. We are constantly working during the week to try to build that combination.

"He helps me out and I help him out and hopefully we'll have a good game together."

Romano felt that the key to selection in the All Blacks was backing up week to week, with their little room at international level to have a bad game.

"I guess it's just being consistent," he said.

"Last year, being my first year, you have a few good games then you drop off and it's all up and down. This season started out like that but from probably halfway through the season right through to now I started putting back-to-back performances together."

The selection of the Crusaders lock comes from his ability to create havoc in the loose, with the All Blacks historically employing a second row forward who has the ability to make metres up the field.

"You always like to run round with the ball in hand," Romano said.

"Growing up through the ages, I was always a ball carrier. Then I started doing it at the Super Rugby level and was having some good rewards from it. It's something I enjoy, being able to stretch my legs and take the ball in to contact and make some good yards and get that quick ball to play with."