All Blacks lock has an appetite for destruction

NO COMPROMISE: All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick is not one to take a backward step on the rugby field.
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
NO COMPROMISE: All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick is not one to take a backward step on the rugby field.

Brodie Retallick's eyes light up at the prospect of locking horns with a similarly built opponent with a shared interest in physical destruction.

The All Blacks lock will likely get a chance to reacquaint himself with young Argentine lock Tomas Lavanini during Saturday's Rugby Championship test at McLean Park.

Lavanini, a 21-year-old colossus at 2.04m and 129kg, caught Retallick's eye last year during a stint with the Chiefs Super Rugby academy in Hamilton.

"He was definitely a physical player," Retallick recalled on Monday. "I remember seeing a video clip where he knocked someone out just cleaning them out [of a ruck].

"He was all about going forward and physicality and trying to dominate the opposition to let the backs do the work. That's the mentality of their whole forward pack, lay the platform and let the backs finish it off."

Retallick, also a big man at 2.04m and 121kg, can't wait for the respective forward packs to collide in what is likely to be his 30th test.

"Definitely. Part of the game I like is the physical side. You can't do it every day of the week and expect to do it on Saturday, so you have to get the body right so its good to go on the weekend again," he said.  

"It's something I enjoy and as part of the tight five you want to set that physical dominance up front. When you are doing that it's a good feeling."

Watching Argentina's domination of South Africa's scrum had fired up the All Blacks pack, he said.

"It's exciting. It's another big challenge, another chance to prove ourselves as players and as a pack against a team like that."

The 23-year-old has thrived this season on regular game time for the Chiefs and, with Luke Romano out with a broken ankle, has done the same in an All Black jersey.

"It allows you to get into a groove and get more comfortable and confident, so it probably helps," he said.

"As long as you keep the body right and don't have too many niggles or injuries, then it's good to be playing a full game or close to it every week."

Retallick has become an automatic selection in the All Blacks second row this year, alongside Sam Whitelock, and has been off the field for just 17 minutes in five tests.

He said he'd also been working hard on his passing skills and decision making with the coaches putting the onus on the tight forwards to execute should they end up in the unfamiliar role of first receiver

"It's when you are out in the middle of the field from phase play around the 10, being able to make the right decision depending on what the defence is doing," he said.

"Carry, pass or off load. It's hard to practice sometimes because they [those situations]  just happen in a game, so its something to keep working on."

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