Whitelock in, Retallick out for the All Blacks
TOBY ROBSON IN CHRISTCHURCH
Bringing lock Sam Whitelock into the starting XV for Brodie Retallick was a no-brainer according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
Retallick has been ruled out of tomorrow night's test against France in Christchurch with a hamstring strain meaning Whitelock will make an early return from injury after missing the first test with a broken finger.
There was speculation uncapped reserve lock Jeremy Thrush might be promoted to the starting side, but Hansen said Whitelock was an obvious choice after being given a medical clearance.
"We've got a plan for Jeremy he's done a loot of work on that plan this week so we d didn't really want to disrupt what we want to do with bringing him off the bench at some point," Hansen said.
"Sammy is our number one lock along with Brodie and Luke [Romano], all three of them rotated last year so it was the obvious thing. As soon as he [Whitelock] go the all clear we put him straight in."
Though Whitelock was initially ruled out of the first two tests of the series, Hansen said his finger was no longer an issue.
"It's pretty good I think, well good enough that he got the all clear. He's chomping at the bit, he can't wait to get out there.
"When Sam was made available, he's a world class lock so you wouldn't lose the opportunity to use him if he's fit and available."
Hansen did not think Whitelock was underdone as he had trained with the squad this week and taken part in the majority of yesterday's team run.
"We have a policy of everyone prepares to play so when you do get hiccups, which are unavoidable, guys just slot in and Sam's been good."
There had been no thought to using Blues flanker Steven Luatua as blindside cover off the bench, and nor would a replacement player be called in to the squad as cover despite Retallick being ruled out for three to four weeks.
"The thing about hamstrings is you just don't want to have them re-occurring so that's why you take a length of time to get them right," Hansen said.
"He's [Retallick] really gutted as you would be, but that's rugby isn't it. That's probably the first time he's had a wee hiccup in the last 24 months so he's dealt with it and now the big focus is getting his leg right."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is Richie McCaw now the greatest All Black of all time?