All Blacks: Retallick fails to name even one rival player

By Gavin Mairs

Brodie Retallick. Photo / Getty Images
Brodie Retallick. Photo / Getty Images

If England's goal was for an anonymous build-up to the first test on Saturday, it appears to have been a success.

Brodie Retallick, the All Blacks lock, remarkably could not manage to correctly name a single member of Stuart Lancaster's squad, despite being in the side that crashed to a record defeat at Twickenham in December 2012, New Zealand's sole defeat since winning the World Cup the previous year.

Retallick's gaffe may have inadvertently handed Lancaster the centrepiece of his team talk ahead of the test at Eden Park with the lock's public declaration of his ignorance of the make-up of the touring party.

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If it appeared to underscore a sense of a lack of knowledge about the Northern Hemisphere game in the All Blacks camp, it also brought a touch of hilarity to the build-up.

Retallick initially claimed to know "a couple" of members of the England squad but when pressed for a name, he added: "Michael Lawes", presumably a reference to Courtney Lawes, the Northampton lock.

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Lawes arrived in Auckland yesterday after starring for Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership final victory over Saracens, but he is unavailable for the first test.

New Zealand remain overwhelming favourites to open the three-test tour with a victory, despite the loss of No8 Kieran Read, who has been withdrawn after showing symptoms of concussion.

Lancaster will name his starting XV today with Billy Twelvetrees set to be ruled out, having failed to train this week because of an ankle injury.

Kyle Eastmond is expected to take Twelvetrees' place at inside centre despite not playing since April while Freddie Burns is set to start at first five-eighths ahead of Danny Cipriani with Premiership finalists Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler missing and George Ford ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, flanker Stephen Ferris insists he is leaving with no regrets after confirming his retirement due to injury.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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