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'I better get back in the gym': Retallick on his battle with Etzebeth

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Brodie Retallick and Eben Etzebeth have been locking horns on the international stage for over a decade, each having debuted for their national teams in 2012. In the years since, they’ve wrestled for not just the Freedom Cup but the title of world’s best lock.

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Both men have one World Cup to their name and represent the very best of their nation’s rugby identity.

The competitive fire between the two has resulted in one or two scuffles, all in the spirit of the game and very much in the spirit of the All Blacks vs Springboks rivalry.

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One dust-up in particular on a cool 2013 night saw the young Springbok enforcer and his Kiwi counterpart come face to face, wrapped up in a snarling grapple of rugby royalty.

Reflecting on the iconic picture that came from the skirmish, Retallick shared his initial thought.

“I always look at the size difference of our biceps,” Retallick told The Platform. “His arms compared to mine, I think to myself jeez I better get back in the gym.”

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“It’s all part of the game, it’s pretty friendly off the field. We have a beer afterwards, I guess we’re just competitive people.

“They’re a good bunch of fellas, it’s one of the good parts about rugby, you battle on the field and enjoy afterwards, it’s always enjoyable.”

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Retallick isn’t alone in finding himself in awe of Etzebeth’s arms, the giant lock was so strong that Stormers staff had to order in heavier dumbbells because the biggest they had – 65kg – wasn’t maxing him out. Prior to his shoulder injury, Etzebeth was curling 75kgs.

Retallick’s usual partner in crime, Sam Whitelock, will be absent from the Test as the coaches have opted to give the All Blacks’ second most capped player another week’s rest despite him being declared healthy.

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“He’s going good,” Retallick said of his lont-time running mate. “I’m not sure, maybe the lack of game time is why he’s not playing but he’s definitely back training and getting amongst it.

“He’s obviously not there this week but no doubt he’ll be raring to go for the Aussie Test.”

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