Retallick knows what to expect from Argentina

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Thrown into the role in the absence of flanker Ardie Savea, who is being rested for the weekend after a head knock last Sunday, Retallick has had captaincy experience, especially at the Chiefs in Super Rugby. He was happy to be taking on the job with good support around him.


The importance of that support was highlighted with news that Sam Whitelock, who captained the side in the absence of the injured flanker Sam Cane, will not be joining the side in Australia after all.


Changes to the quarantine time he expected meant he would not have enough time to achieve his goal of being considered for the second South Africa Test, so he decided to join the team in the northern hemisphere leg of their trip.


Retallick was disappointed for his locking partner but said, "It's the world we're living in at the moment with things changing all the time. I know people have been working hard behind the scenes to get him here, and it hasn't worked out.


"It's unfortunate for Sam as he was looking forward to getting over here but at the same time he'll get to spend more time with the baby which I'm sure he'll enjoy before heading over to Europe," he said.

Assuming the captaincy role for Sunday had not proved much different from his usual preparation, although there were a few more media calls.


However, he said, it had been good to move from their soft quarantine in Perth and to be able to get out and about at their Surfers Paradise base.


And while his stint in Japan last year meant he wasn't part of the All Blacks team that lost to Argentina for the first time, he said they knew what to expect.


"I've played Argentina a few times and we know they always come out with a lot of intensity and pride. We saw what they did last year on the back of a great performance in Australia against the All Blacks," he said.


"We're a different team at the moment. We're playing some great footy compared to last year. We can't get caught up in all the niggle and physicality and off the ball stuff, and [have] do what we do and play rugby, and get our set-piece right"," he said.


The Argentinians loved their scrummaging, and there had been times when they dominated upfront, but the All Blacks had been lucky to get away with it through their skill sets, he said.

"We need to set the platform there. Their scrum, we've seen from the video tapes is very strong at the moment. They're big boys, they're just going to run straight at you and win the gain-line, so I think physically, coming forward defensively, and getting our set-piece right will play a massive part to getting a win," he said.


At the same time, he said, Argentina had every reason to feel confident they could beat the All Blacks. It was the same for any team.


The All Blacks learned from last year's loss that if they didn't prepare correctly, achieve the necessary level of physicality, and avoid being put off their game by Argentina's propensity for off-the-ball play, they could make it harder to achieve a win.


"There's been a focus on us this week to make sure that we get our skill sets right, and accuracy in our roles, to hopefully negate that," he said.


Retallick said debut starting hooker Asafo Aumua faced a big challenge against such a strong scrummaging side. How he coped would be interesting, he said.


"We know how powerful he is with ball in hand, so I'm looking forward to him doing that, especially in those wider channels where our hookers play. And as long as we nail our set-piece, I'm sure he will flourish out there," he said.


Retallick said he enjoyed being back in a high-performance environment, and he was looking forward to stringing some Tests together for match consistency and game fitness.


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