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Brodie Retallick and All Blacks halves on cusp of return for Chiefs

By Tom Vinicombe
Brodie Retallick. (Photo by Chris Symes/Photosport)

He may be down but he’s certainly not out; it appears that Brodie Retallick could be set for a return to the Chiefs next weekend when they take on the Rebels in Melbourne.

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Retallick left the field during the Chiefs’ rematch with the Crusaders at the end of March and later revealed that he had broken his thumb in the clash.

The Chiefs confirmed at the time that Retallick would be sidelined for six to eight weeks and thankfully for both head coach Clayton McMillan and the national side, Retallick is healing up right on schedule. Pending a scan in the coming days, there’s a very good chance the big second-rower could feature in Melbourne next Sunday – potentially alongside fellow All Blacks Brad Weber and Josh Ioane.

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“We’ve got a couple of those big dogs coming back next week, Brad, Josh, Brodie potentially,” McMillan said this week after announcing his side to take on the Brumbies in Hamilton.

“[Retallick has] still got to get another scan, I believe, and it’ll be up to the surgeon to determine whether he’s available or not but he’s certainly giving my eardrums a bit of a bashing over his availability. But we’ll listen to the surgeon.”

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While contact training has been limited for the 30-year-old, McMillan says that Retallick has been doing plenty of work to keep himself in tip-top shape ahead of his return but hasn’t shed too many kilos in the process.

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“He’s doing a fair bit of running but I’m not sure how it’s impacted his weight,” McMillan said. “I heard somebody the other day say he’s at a real healthy weight, not down to where he was in Japan.

“He knows how to hit the ground running so when he gets backs on the field I imagine it won’t take him too long to get back up to speed.”

The news wasn’t quite so reassuring for some of the Chiefs’ other players in the injury ward, with McMillan confirming that Sione Mafileo and Simon Parker wouldn’t feature for the rest of the season.

“Sione Mafileo, he’s just got a neck injury. It’s just one of those ones you have to give time and he’s probably not going to have enough time to come back so he’s effectively been ruled out for the season.

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“Simon Parker’s got to have some more surgery so he’ll be out for the best part of six months.

“The announcement around [injuries] is probably just recognising that there’s a whole lot of people out there that are wondering what’s happening with these players. Those guys are season-enders. Some who we thought were season-enders are looking relatively positive and may feature again like Shooter (Sean) Stevenson.”

With three crucial players potentially set to return next week, the Chiefs are slowly towards having a relatively clean bill of health ahead of the Super Rugby Pacific play-offs.

Etene Nanai-Seturo, Kaleb Trask and Emoni Narawa have all returned to the match-day 23 for this Saturday’s clash with the Brumbies while Sam Cane is also back on deck at this stage after missing last weekend’s win against the Reds due to the impending arrival of his first child. Gideon Wrampling, one of the stars of last year’s New Zealand Under 20s side, is also back on deck after representing club side Te Awamutu over the weekend in his return from injury.

There’s still a sizeable temporary injury ward, however, including Weber, Ioane, Retallick, Stevenson and Laghlan McWhannell – but it appears the tide might be shifting for the Chiefs, and it likely couldn’t come a minute too soon for McMillan.

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