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'He's ready to go': Brodie Retallick set for injury return as Chiefs eye home playoff

By Alex McLeod
Brodie Retallick. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Chiefs are set to receive a massive boost in their hunt for a home Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final as star lock Brodie Retallick nears a return from injury.

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Retallick has been sidelined since March after breaking his thumb during his side’s 34-19 round six loss to the Crusaders in Hamilton.

However, the 92-test lock is primed to be available for next week’s home bout against the Western Force, with Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan revealing on Thursday that Retallick is just a week away from making his long-awaited return.

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“He’s ready to go. We’re all keen to get him back,” McMillan said ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.

“The surgeons are just being really ultra-conservative, so we’re not going to take any chances with him until he’s fully healed – not 90 percent healed, not 95 percent healed, but 100 percent healed – so another week will do him a world of good.

“He’ll be a bit of a wound up spring by then, but that’s not a bad thing for us.”

News of Retallick’s imminent comeback is a major bonus for the Chiefs, who are leading a pack of four teams – comprised of the Waratahs, Reds and Hurricanes – that are all within three points of fourth place.

Finishing in Super Rugby Pacific’s top four will guarantee home ground advantage in next month’s quarter-finals, which makes Retallick’s return vital for their playoff aspirations.

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So too does the inclusion of co-captain Brad Weber and one-test All Blacks playmaker Josh Ioane, both of whom form a new-look halves combo following injury spells on the sideline, for this week’s match with the Rebels.

Weber is back after a neck injury, while Ioane has been selected at first-five after having damaged some ribs.

In doing so, the latter takes the place of regular starter Bryn Gatland, who is one of numerous key figures – such as Pita Gus Sowakula and Tupou Vaa’i – who have been rested by McMillan.

Instead, the likes of Kaleb Trask, Rivez Reihana, Mitchell Brown and Samipeni Finau have been included in the match day squad to give the Chiefs plenty of positional cover during their trip across the Tasman.

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“We can’t take everybody to Australia, so we’ve got to cover our bases a little bit, and, with Bryn, he’s just another one that’s played big, big minutes and really just deserves a break,” McMillan said.

“He’s [Vaa’i’s] played four 80-minute games in a row, and if it wasn’t this week, it was probably going to be next week, so if the stars align and Brodie is able to come back next week, then maybe we might be able to give one of those other locks [a rest].

“Lordy [Josh Lord], for a young man, has played a number of back-to-back games with reasonably high minutes, so there’s all a bit of method in the madness.”

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finn 6 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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