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Brodie Retallick to make injury return in Ranfurly Shield defence

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

While Brodie Retallick won’t feature for the All Blacks in Christchurch this weekend, the former World Rugby Player of the Year could be back on deck for the national side next weekend following a broken cheekbone suffered in July.

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Retallick bore the No 4 jersey in all three of New Zealand’s Tests with Ireland to kick off their international campaign this year but took a blow to the head from opposition prop Andrew Porter in the third match of the series.

While Porter spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for the collision, Retallick’s night came to a premature end and the 31-year-old was initially expected to spend up to eight weeks on the sidelines.

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This weekend, however – five weeks after the initial injury – Retallick will suit up for Hawke’s Bay as they look to defend the Ranfurly Shield against North Harbour. If the lumbering second-rower comes through the match unscathed, he could potentially make a return to the Test arena against Los Pumas in Hamilton next Saturday.

Retallick, who made his provincial debut for Hawke’s Bay as a 19-year-old in 2010, has notched up just 12 appearances for the Magpies throughout his professional career due to the NPC season overlapping with the Test calendar. As such, it’s been over a decade since Retallick last featured in the black and white hoops.

Hawke’s Bay already boast a strong squad without Retallick’s inclusion, but adding a senior All Black to the mix will undoubtedly further push the odds in their favour as they look to defend the Ranfurly Shield against a North Harbour side that haven’t held the fabled Log of Wood since 2006, when the likes of Rua Tipoki, Viliame Waqaseduadua and Luke McAlister pulled the rug out from under Canterbury in Christchurch.

Retallick will join a forward pack boasting the talents of Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tyrone Thompson, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u and Devan Flanders while former All Black Brad Weber – who will naturally still harbour a desire to force his way back into the national squad in time for the Rugby World Cup – will lead a backline that includes Lincoln McClutchie, Danny Toala and Chase Tiatia.

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On the opposite side of the park, captain and first five-eighth Bryn Gatland has been in superb form off the tee for North Harbour and will undoubtedly prove crucial in their attempt to pull the wool over a Magpies side that have looked somewhat down on form this year after making the Premership semi-finals last season.

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In 2022, Hawke’s Bay have managed a narrow victory over Countie Manukau, a draw with Waikato and a loss at the hands of Otago while last weekend scoring a big win over Manawatu. Although Harbour opened their season with a loss to Auckland, they have looked strong in their two most recent performance, getting the better of Tasman and Manawatu.

It’s hard to imagine a situation where all eyes aren’t on Brodie Retallick on Saturday afternoon, however, with the big lock now facing the task of unseating Scott Barrett in the All Blacks second row when he does find himself back to full fitness.

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In Retallick’s absence, Barrett and Sam Whitelock have carried their impressive Super Rugby partnership into the Test arena while Tupou Vaa’i had earned a handful of minutes off the bench.

Saturday’s Ranfurly Shield clash between Hawke’s Bay and North Harbour is set to kick off at 2:05pm NZT from McLean Park on Saturday.

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