Sold-out Cardiff a new challenge for younger All Blacks - Retallick

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Lock Brodie Retallick said it was also one way of taking the 70,000-strong crowd at the Principality Stadium out of the picture early.

 

The more experienced players had explained to younger teammates how loud the stadium could be and how difficult that made lineout calling. So, taking the crowd out of it made communication easier, he said.

 

However, being involved in a game at the Principality Stadium for the first time since the onset of Covid-19 would be something special, he said.

 

"To play here is special enough, but with what is going on in the world, for them to be able to open up and have a full crowd is going to be cool. I know a lot of the boys haven't played here before, or it's been a while, so we're pretty excited to get in there.

 

"Whether the roof is open or shut I'm not sure, we're definitely looking forward to it," he said.

 

Retallick will face another outing against Alun Wyn Jones, a player he had marked several times for Wales or the British & Irish Lions, who will be making his 150th appearance for Wales. He said to achieve that milestone said it all about the quality of his play, and with his leadership skills in captaining several sides, it would be another challenge to go up against him.

 

 

"His all-round work-rate is massive, he seems to have plenty of energy and to go deep into games. He's obviously very smart around defensive lineouts, and when we've played the Welsh and Lions they've put us under real pressure there," he said.

 

Retallick said returning to Test rugby earlier in the year had been a challenge after two years in Japan, which wasn't helped by the back-to-back nature of five Tests in Australia.

 

But they had enjoyed a break and now faced another five-Test stint.

 

"I've definitely learned a bit from the first five games on tour then obviously the week off helped. Then we trained pretty hard over in Queensland, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into whatever I play in these last four," he said.

 

Retallick said finishing off the Rugby Championship with two Tests against South Africa had been good as they played a different style to Australia and Argentina. There were times when the All Blacks battled with their game. And they struggled to get involved when the ball was in the air so much.

 

 

"It's been great to have two weeks to learn from it, and I'd like to see some improvement from the team heading into these four weeks from what we've learnt out of those two games," he said.

 

Making better use of their lineouts, and coping with the South African strategy of forcing the All Blacks to play the front of the lineout and then pushing the maul to the sideline, had been an area of attention in preparation for the northern tour.

 

"It was something I thought was working pretty well against Australia and Argentina and we seemed to lose a bit of edge around that against South Africa, so it's something we've touched on and are looking to get right these next few weeks," he said.

 

Some of the techniques had been 'pretty average', and they had gone away a little from focusing on it at training. But they had rectified that since then, especially knowing they could run into wet weather requiring them to play more tactically over the next month.

 

Retallick said it was good to see New Zealand developing strength in his locking position. Tupou Va'ai and Josh Lord had performed well against the USA Eagles, Scott Barrett played well in Australia and, now Sam Whitelock was back, and it was great to have competition for places.

 

Retallick added that meeting future Chiefs teammate Lord for the first time had been notable as he had to look up to him. He was the tallest player since Dominic Bird.

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