New Zealand have welcomed back world-class lock Brodie Retallick into the squad, who returned from a broken cheekbone at the weekend.
Retallick featured in Hawke’s Bay’s NPC encounter on Saturday, coming through the contest unscathed, and could line up for Ian Foster’s men in their next encounter against Argentina.
The All Blacks – and their head coach – are back under pressure after succumbing to Los Pumas 25-18 at the weekend.
It was their sixth defeat in eight and their first against the Argentinians at home.
The knives are once again out for Foster but Retallick, who has been missing for the past six weeks, believes that everyone involved in the set-up needs to take responsibility.
Owning their role
“There’s obviously been a lot of external noise over the last month, and I’ve seen it from a different view of not being in the environment,” he told reporters.
“Bumping into people in the street and asking questions that I’ve got no answer for because I don’t know what’s going on at that level.
“But I think the coaches have a responsibility, and so do the players, and so do the rest of the management in here. So everybody needs to own their role.”
Having not played in the first three Rugby Championship encounters Retallick is unsure as to whether he will return for this weekend’s clash, but the 31-year-old has put his hand up for selection.
“I’m not exactly sure what the plan is as of yet, but the body’s come through good, whether that’s enough for the coaches to now pick me here, or go back to Hawke’s Bay, we’ll see how that goes with the week,” Retallick said.
“But I would love to be out there.”
With Retallick coming back, that could see the lock combination changed, despite being one of the better areas of their game recently.
Sam Whitelock has been excellent and was a standout performer on Saturday, but All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan believes that he and captain Sam Cane should not play in the next game.
“Both Whitelock and Cane look pretty tired to me. Maybe we need to go, ‘sit this one out, play against Aussie’,” he said on The Breakdown.
“Be open. I want to see Dalton Papalii out there. We’ve lost six out of the last eight, so let’s go, ‘righto boys the competition is on.’
“And the leadership group needs to get together and go, ‘we didn’t perform, what do we need to do about that? Is it too much process and not enough emotion? Did we not have the skills from the coaches or an alternative kicking game?’
“The leaders need to ask those questions of the coaches, and the coaches need to ask those questions of them.”
Kirwan added: “We need Dalton to play some games. There’s nothing wrong with Cane … he’s probably not in the best form of his life, but we need Dalton to get out there because what happens next year?
“What’s going to happen at lock? We’ve got Retallick back, so do you play Retallick and [Scott] Barrett this week? What are we doing to say we’re building for the future, because I keep hearing we’re building…”
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