'Maybe I'll have to start practising my long punt': All Blacks star's take on new law changes
While World Rugby are yet to confirm reports, the expectation remains that two new laws will be introduced to test rugby from the beginning of August and rolled out across domestic competitions across the globe.
Both the 50-22 and goal-line drop-out rules that were utilised throughout Super Rugby this year will reportedly come into effect for The Rugby Championship, amongst other competitions. The 20-minute red card, however, has not been ratified.
For most Super Rugby players, the changes won’t cause too many issues for the upcoming test season – but they will require an adjustment for anyone who’s returning to test rugby but skipped out on the domestic season.
One such player is returning All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, who has been based in Japan for the last two seasons and played his most recent match for a New Zealand side in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Retallick is yet to play a match with goal-line drop-outs – which effectively punish a team for getting ever so close to scoring a try but not quite getting past the final hurdle of placing the ball on the turf.
With the 50-22 laws not trialled in Super Rugby Aotearoa or Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Retallick won’t be the only All Black forced to play with unfamiliar rules later this year. The towering second-rower has put his hand up to make the most of the incoming law, however.
“I did read [about the new laws] somewhere when I jumped off the plane from Napier this morning,” he said this week after assembling for the All Blacks. “Maybe I’ll have to start practising my long punt.”
Retallick is certainly not a man known for his kicking and suggested that he’d never kicked a ball in a match before – but admitted that he’d had plenty of opportunities to play a slightly more expansive game in Japan than is traditional for a lock, often ranging out in the midfield.
Given the run of injuries the All Blacks have had in the centres, maybe Retallick could plug a gap somewhere in the backline?
“I’m not sure, maybe Fozzie [All Blacks coach Ian Foster] will decide that,” he joked. “They played a pretty expansive game or brand of footy over there[in Japan] so there’d be a bit of open space.”
"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
Asked whether there were any laws that the 2014 World Rugby Player of the Year would consider changing to improve the game, the 30-year-old couldn’t produce any off the top of his head – but quickly shut down any suggestions of removing rolling mauls from the game.
“It’s great to watch when [a maul] comes together so I’m happy for it to stay,” he said.
Retallick is one of five locks selected in Foster’s first All Blacks squad of the year, alongside captain Samuel Whitelock, experienced campaigners Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuiupulotu, and future Chiefs teammate Tupou Vaa’i.
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