Rugby Championship

All Blacks comfortable in resting star locks

2017-09-23 14:16
Steve Hansen (Getty)

Cape Town - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen feels the absence of first-choice locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock from next weekend's Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires is an opportunity more than a risk.

The last time the pair were rested was in the side's loss to Ireland in Chicago last year.

"It's about the risk and reward really, if we don't do things differently we are going to get to the end of the year and the three Test matches in the UK become extremely difficult because you've got tired athletes," Hansen explained.

"That's where we lost the game last year on the beginning of that tour."

Luke Romano also hadn't been available for that game so with Scott Barrett playing his first Test and Jerome Kaino out of position as a lock, a decision they got wrong, Hansen said.

Since then Barrett had got a lot of miles under his belt while Patrick Tuipulotu was back playing well for Auckland. 

"He's hung in there well, he's playing well I think in a team that's struggling a little but he's leading that team and doing his utmost on the park to lead it through his actions so he's in pretty good shape," Hansen said of Tuipulotu.

"I had a good chat to him before and he's excited. That's where you want him, he's a good athlete when he's on song.

"We're comfortable in our skin that these guys are good enough if they prepare well enough to play well so we'll give ourselves a chance of winning the game."

Lima Sopoaga had dropped out of the Argentine leg as his wife gave birth to their first child and it had always been a possibility that Beauden Barrett would be called in, and that call came through on Thursday evening. If all goes well, Sopoaga will join the side in South Africa.

While it affected the planned break for Barrett, Hansen said he may be given a break after the final Australia Test next month and get a late start joining the team ahead of the Barbarians game in London in November.

It had always been intended that the Barbarians game would be a chance for the less experienced players to start. 

"The younger guys will have an opportunity to experience it all without the pressure," Hansen said.

Hansen confirmed post-operation rehabilitation was under way for props Owen Franks and Joe Moody and fullback Israel Dagg had met with a surgeon where it was decided rest would be the best option for his knee. He will be out for the remainder of the year.


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