'I'm ready': Tonga and Fiji beware, Brodie Retallick is back
Retallick spent the past two seasons in Japan on sabbatical but has been whisked straight back into the All Blacks and forms one fifth of a strong locking contingent alongside captain Samuel Whitelock, experienced operators Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu, and young gun Tupou Vaa’i.
While Retallick wasn’t in Japan on holiday, the second-rower has said that he’s now mentally and physically refreshed after spending the first eight years of his professional career playing week-in and week-out for the Chiefs and All Blacks.
“It was awesome. Mentally, I feel really refreshed. It was kind of like a breath of fresh air going over there,” Retallick said on Wednesday afternoon. “Different ideas, different voices, new challenges.
“I was pretty adamant in my head that I wasn’t just going there for a holiday, I didn’t want to be disrespectful for the club or anything like that so I tried to put my best foot forward and play the best footy I could for them. But there’s a lot more time at home and less travel and stuff like that so it has been re-energising.
"Coming to Japan was definitely a result of how much rugby I played in those first five or six years."
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) April 28, 2021
“Obviously, the break between the first and second season was a little bit longer because of COVID. I hope to kind of reap the rewards of that with my body now. I feel like it’s in a good spot.”
Retallick’s first year in Japan came to a premature end due to the global pandemic, with just half a dozen rounds played before the season was called off. He and his family returned to New Zealand shortly after and while Retallick had the option of suiting up for the Chiefs, the 30-year-old decided to make the most of his sabbatical and take some time out from the game.
“When we came back after the first season we had about seven months back in New Zealand so it gave a lot of time to one, have a break and not train too much, and then have a break pre-season leading into the season that’s just been. The body and the fitness and all that’s in a good spot.”
Now, back permanently in NZ, Retallick is ready to once again don the black jersey and is confident that he’s ready to foot it with the best, despite his time away from the rigours of Super Rugby.
“I think the physicality of the Top League vs Super Rugby and test rugby is going to be different,” he acknowledged. “That’ll be the biggest gap to bridge.
“I’m ready if I’m picked. Whether I will be or not, that’s not my decision. I’m ready to start getting back into it and playing.”
As revealed on The XV, Retallick intends to spend the next two years pushing for the upcoming Rugby World Cup before likely calling time on his career in New Zealand.
The All Blacks kick their season off against at Mount Smart in Auckland next weekend before taking part in a two-test series with Fiji.
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