All Blacks relief as Retallick’s World Cup hopes remain


All Blacks star Brodie Retallick remained in the World Cup frame Sunday after X-rays cleared him of any structural damage to his shoulder injured in the bruising Test against South Africa.

Sonny Bill Williams was also a probable World Cup starter despite being ruled out of the Test against Australia in two weeks because of fitness issues.

The 77-Test Retallick dislocated his shoulder after being sent flying from a ruck by the 117 kilogram (258 pound) Springboks replacement forward RG Snyman during the drawn Test in Wellington on Saturday.

He left the field grimacing in pain and was rushed to hospital where tests showed there was no further damage.

Coach Steve Hansen said there was no timeline for Retallick’s return but he was “hopeful he would be available” for the World Cup.

“It’s reasonably positive. He’s only dislocated it. So there is a good possibility he could make the World Cup.

“He’s one of our best players so we’re relieved. It’s good.”

Meanwhile Williams, who has had limited time on the field this year because of injury, will leave the All Blacks ranks to get much-needed game time at provincial level over the next few weeks.

“We’re not going to take him to Perth. We’re going to get him to play two, or three or as many games that we can get in” before the second Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies in Auckland on August 17, Hansen said.

He also declared himself happy with the way the All Blacks were developing despite multiple errors in the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship where they beat Argentina and drew with South Africa.

Despite South Africa dominating the first half, and the All Blacks controlling the second half of Saturday’s 16-16 clash in Wellington there was only one try apiece with Hansen singling out line speed in defence as key to the World cup.

“Definitely. You saw it last night. Both sides were fanatical with it. We’re not the finished product there either but we have seen some very good defence in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

On attack, Hansen could “see a fair bit of daylight” at the end of the tunnel.

“As they say in France ‘pas panic’, just be patient, make sure we can work away quietly and achieve what we want to achieve.

“In a high speed game, when you have a high speed defensive line coming at you, you can’t think about it. You have to be instinctive … Quite a few of the big boys felt the pinch last night because we are asking them to do a lot. So our bench will have to be strong.”

The All Blacks’ first match in the World Cup is against South Africa on September 21.

The imposing Retallick and Williams were both members of the New Zealand side that won the 2015 World Cup, with Williams also a member of the victorious 2011 squad.