Rugby: Week off an irritant for Retallick

By Kris Shannon

Brodie Retallick crossed for a match-sealing try late in the Chiefs' win over the Blues. Photo / Getty
Brodie Retallick crossed for a match-sealing try late in the Chiefs' win over the Blues. Photo / Getty

Brodie Retallick would be perhaps the only Chiefs unhappy with the timing of his team's bye.

The All Black made a typical return to the Super Rugby leaders in their win over the Blues on Friday night, showing equal parts energy and athleticism in his first outing since suffering broken ribs last month.

Having also endured an injury-disrupted campaign in 2015, when he damaged both shoulders in separate incidents, Retallick would have watched with mixed emotions as the Chiefs won all four games in his absence.

While the performances of his teammates were extremely impressive given the size of their casualty ward, the lock's frustration at another spell on the sidelines was keenly felt, meaning the bye week arrived at exactly the wrong moment.

"It's been a long four weeks on the sidelines," Retallick said. "Obviously [the injury] wasn't ideal timing - a game-and-a-half into the season - but hopefully now I'll just stay injury-free and start stringing a few games together."

Retallick was still planning on putting the feet up early this week, having continued to play an active role in training during much of his downtime, and that rest was earned after his performance on Friday night.

It was notable, when he crashed over in the 77th minute to clinch victory, that Retallick was almost carried across the line by replacement prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, almost needing the assistance that late in the match. Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said Retallick was guaranteed a full game, even if a lack of match fitness eventually caught up with the man himself.

"I looked up at the clock with about eight minutes to go in the second half and I was hanging on there," Retallick said. "It was tough to be back out there for 80 but, at the same time, I'm just happy to be out there."

The Chiefs would feel the exact same way, although they endured no stumbles in Retallick's absence. In fact, a run of five straight bonus-point victories means they are guaranteed to retain top spot even after their bye.

All that in spite of an injury toll that hit throughout the squad and particularly in the lock position. Retallick wasn't the only man returning to the second row against the Blues, with Dominic Bird making his maiden appearance, while Johan Bardoul also suffered a serious injury while providing cover in the position.

Taleni Seu, another loose forward with locking ability, showed his promise while the All Blacks pair were away, and Michael Allardice had played almost every minute before being rested against the Blues.

It has been in attack, of course, where the Chiefs have triumphed, and that flair was again on display in patches of Friday's victory in Hamilton. Retallick quickly added his exemplary skillset to the equation and the 24-year-old said his side's backs were a joy to watch - except in training.

"They're pretty exciting and they'll have a crack from anywhere. Sometimes you wonder how they pull it off but it's good to see when you put your head up from a scrum or a lineout and they're playing the way they are.

"Sometimes it's pretty tough because you're not too sure where they're going to go, especially when you're trying to defend them at training - they're going one way and then the other the next. It keeps you on your toes."

- NZ Herald

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