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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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Retallick injury may force rethink - Kayes

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Jim Kayes     27 Jul 2019     Getty Images

He will be disappointed as a draw satisfies no one, even if South Africa celebrated after the final whistle.

But he will be devastated if Brodie Retallick is ruled out of the World Cup after he left the field with a dislocated shoulder in the 60th minute of the 16-16 draw in Wellington.

QUICK TAP: HANSEN STILL EXCITED ABOUT ALL BLACKS DIRECTION

"He's dislocated his shoulder," Hansen said. "Whether he's fractured it as well, we don't know. We just have to sit and wait."

South Africa’s elation on full time reflected the fact that they had come from behind to secure the draw but there was even less in the result for them as the All Blacks retain the Freedom Cup.

Hansen would have been forgiven being frustrated by so much of what he saw at Westpac Stadium, but he remained upbeat, in public at least.
"I didn't find it a tough watch," Hansen said. "It was a Test match.

Obviously the last couple of seconds were a bit tough to watch but we've done that to plenty of sides before and you've got to take your own medicine and move on.

"We've chosen over the last couple of weeks to name two different sides. We haven't had much preparation time. We knew due to some of the stuff we were introducing we would be a little off. But there were enough signs there to suggest if we keep working away and get our timing better and get our execution better we will be able to hurt some teams.

"We're not going to panic. We're going to take a deep breath and keep moving.”

When they held on to the ball, the All Blacks looked good, but they made far too many errors, pushed the pass too often and struggled to get through and around South Africa’s impressive rush defence.

That defence was especially effective on Sonny Bill Williams though in a way it also showed his potential value to the All Blacks.

Williams routinely attracted three defenders and when he can do that and produce one of his trademark offloads, the All Blacks are in business.



He wasn’t able to do so against South Africa, but he did throw a nice cut out pass to put Beauden Barrett in some space for a break that lead to Jack Goodhue’s try.

That was, perhaps, the most exciting thing the All Blacks did in a pretty ordinary first half of rugby and it showed just how dangerous Barrett can be in space.

But we knew that. His shift to fullback revealed nothing new but Barrett’s ability with the ball in hand is well known.

There was more interest in how Richie Mo’unga did at first five and he was okay, without being anything special.

It won’t surprise if we see that starting combination again, but equally it wouldn’t surprise if Hansen tucks it away as the formation he wants to end games with.

Let’s be honest, with so many of the debates around the All Blacks selection permutations we are quibbling over options most countries would die for.

There’s nothing wrong with Saturday’s set up; but a back three of Ben Smith, Reiko Ioane and Sevu Reece (to name just one) is also good.
And if that means Barrett starts and Mo’unga comes off the bench, or vice-versa, then there’s not much wrong with that either.

A positive from this Test was the form of Goodhue who has flattered to deceive at times but showed this time some of the potential he has.
He just needs to produce it more often.

Hansen’s headache though is Retallick. His injury threatens to derail Hansen’s thinking around his forwards for Japan.

Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock are a more than handy combination and Barrett could be back from his broken thumb as soon as the first Test against Australia in Perth in two weeks.

But if Retallick is ruled out of the World Cup the depth goes and Hansen might be forced to take four locks to Japan when he might have favoured just three with an extra loose forward.