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Rising star hoping to learn ‘as much as I can’ from All Blacks greats

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Test centurions Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock have formed a formidable partnership in the All Blacks’ second row for more than a decade. Both men will go down in history as all-time greats.


But change is coming, whether All Blacks fans like it or not.

Following this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, the All Blacks will usher in a new era under incoming coach Scott Robertson.

The man known as Razor, who coached the Crusaders to their seventh title in as many years last weekend, will look to lead a new-look All Blacks side to gory.

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From 2024, the All Blacks will most likely include a mix of fresh faces, rising stars and experienced campaigners – but the team won’t feature the seemingly irreplaceable second-row duo.

Among the players who will farewell the All Blacks after this year’s Rugby World Cup – including the likes of Aaron Smith and Dane Coles – both Retallick and Whitelock will call time on their Test careers.

Retallick will return to Kobelco Steelers in Japan, while Whitelock will join his younger brother Luke at French club Pau on a two-year deal.


Before All Blacks fans know it, the influence, experience and leadership of the world-class pair will longer take centre stage in the Test arena.


With more than 240 Test caps between them, Retallick and Whitelock will be tough to replace – but the All Blacks have some exciting options at lock coming through the ranks.

Crusaders captain Scott Barrett would have to be considered a frontrunner for a starting jersey, while Chiefs star Tupou Vaa’i has also shown plenty of promise at Test level in the past.

But another option is Josh Lord.

Lord, who is the fifth tallest player in All Blacks history, has been recalled to the national team ahead of their Rugby Championship campaign.

After spending 11 months on the sidelines with a knee injury, Lord appears intent on adding to his two Test caps next month.


But, importantly, the 22-year-old is eager to learn “as much as I can from” departing greats Retallick and Whitelock.

“I guess I’m just pretty excited to be back in there in the mix, playing with the best team in the world,” Lord told RugbyPass.

“I guess it’s always going to be pretty special when you’ve got the likes of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock to learn a bit from them.

“I think this is going to be their last year in the All Blacks so I’m just going to take as much as I can from them and take it with me for the rest of my career.”

After spending almost a year on the sidelines, Lord was a bit of a surprise selection in the All Blacks’ 36-man squad for the Rugby Championship.

But amongst all the discussion and passionate debates surrounding the selection of five uncapped players in the initial squad, Lord’s inclusion seemed to fly under the radar.

The rising star was always destined for more Test match rugby after making his debut on the end-of-season tour in 2021, but injuries put those hopes and dreams on hold.


But with a Rugby World Cup just over two months away, Lord spoke about how “special” it was to hear his “name called out.”

“When you get the chance to work with some world-class players and some bloody good coaches, and hopefully push hard to play a few games and put my best foot forward really,” Lord added.

itely going to be special. There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into it from not just myself but the medical team as well as mates and family.

“It’s special to be able to share the journey along with them.”

The All Blacks begin their Rugby Championship campaign against Los Pumas in Mendoza, Argentina, early next month.

New Zealand will then return home to face rivals South Africa in Auckland before travelling across the ditch to play Eddie Jones’ Wallabies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The All Blacks leave for Argentina on Sunday.


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jared 387 days ago

What about Paripari Parkinson next year in ABs? I’ve always rated him. I know he’s injury prone but he’s a big unit, mobile and when firing is a very good lock.

MattJH 387 days ago

Samipeni Finau at 6, Scott barret lock and tupou on the bench.
I like Dmac at 10, but feel like we’re back in the day with first fives that all have their strengths but no one is the complete package.
I’m a massive Mo’unga fan but the dudes defense is just too much of a liability.
BB telegraphs his passes way too much.
So Dmac is the closest compromise.
I’d also start Tamaiti, let him empty the tank and get subbed rather than risk Ethan getting injured in the first minute and the youngster having to go 79 minutes right out the gate.
Scott Barret is too slow for a six. He’ll get skinned on the scrums.

Northandsouth 387 days ago

I would play Scott Barrett at 6 for the world cup and carry that into next year. We'll clearly be light at second row in terms of experience, so why not spread the pressure across three sets of 2M-ish shoulders, with him, Vaa'i and Lord all starting. While Ardie is off for a 'break' next year, signs are he'll be back in Black soon, so the lock-style 6 would be counter-balanced by the other two flankers having the skills of a seven. Even more keen on this strategy if Vaa'i or Lord lose form or get injured and we have to bring in someone even less experienced.

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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