Retallick set to ease back into World Cup play

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Having achieved their likely pool-topping position with the opening win over South Africa, the All Blacks have been able to work on developing their two-pronged game with first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga and fullback Beauden Barrett, in the wake of that win, while also being able to rest the pair ahead of next week's game against Italy.

 

But that the nature of the pool games have given the All Blacks the added advantage of being able to ease arguably one of the most dominant figures in the world game, lock Brodie Retallick, back into play earlier than anticipated after his recovery from a dislocated shoulder.

 

When the side was named it was felt he could be ready for the quarterfinals, but he will have time for a cameo of 20-40 minutes against Namibia and having come through that a longer stint against Italy.

 

Coach Steve Hansen said it was exciting to have Retallick back where he will partner with captain for the game, Sam Whitelock in their 52nd outing together.

 

"There has been some great work done by not only Brodie but also by the medical team," Hansen said.

 

It was apparent to those who have experience of Retallick's preparedness that he had been showing all the signs of recovery.

 

"He has decided to be an annoying guy again so that's a good sign. He tells me he has been counting the days down. He's excited and so he should be," Hansen said.

 

Halfback Aaron Smith said it was good to see Retallick back in action and with his niggly approach.

 

"I know as a nine [halfback] when he's defending, he takes you out and quickly tugs your arm. I always say, 'leave my forearms alone', but he always gets nines, he's got such long arms.

 

"You can tell he's hungry. His ruck speed, his defence, he carries a lot of mana in this team," he said.

 

Hansen said after the selection announcement: "In naming this team, we had to consider the short turnaround between the Canadian and Namibian games. We're managed to ensure that we've got plenty of fresh players starting this match.

 

"Our preparation on-field this week is all about getting the balance right over the next two days. It's a case of not too much and not too little, from a physical point of view," he said.

 

"We're very happy with where we are after our first two games. However, the expectations going into the match on Sunday don't change.

 

"We need to keep improving. In all games it's important to nail the mental self-preparation, as it's not about who you're playing, it's about your own personal standards," he said.

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