All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick will miss their matches against Wales and Scotland after he was handed a two-game ban following his red card.
The second-row was given his marching orders for a dangerous clearout in the game against Japan over the weekend, which almost cost his side the victory.
Fortunately for Ian Foster’s troops they managed to hold on and prevail 38-31 as they kicked off their end-of-year tour with a win, albeit an worrisome one.
Out of Wales and Scotland games
This week they take on Wales but will be without lock Retallick after he charged into a ruck and his shoulder made contact with a Japanese opponent’s head.
He will also miss the All Blacks‘ clash with Scotland in Edinburgh, but fortunately should return for the England fixture at Twickenham on November 19.
“An independent judicial committee upheld the red card, and Retallick accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, but did not accept that the offence was worthy of a dismissal,” read a statement after the hearing.
“Taking into account his disciplinary record, the ban was reduced from six to three matches.
“However, subject to the successful completion of a Coaching Intervention Programme, this will be reduced further to a two-game suspension, World Rugby said in a statement, meaning Retallick should be free to play against England.”
Pressure is on the All Blacks
New Zealand will be feeling extra pressure this November as their slide down the World Rugby rankings has been well documented over the past 12 months.
Japan head coach Jamie Joseph stated sides are not afraid of New Zealand any more after the Brave Blossoms ran them close in last week’s international.
“Having played for the All Blacks, one of the things we used to talk about 25 years ago was that everyone was a wee bit scared of us,” Joseph said recently.
“Perhaps that’s not the case any more, I’m not sure.”
Meanwhile, Japan blindside flank Michael Leitch, who was also born in New Zealand, echoed Joseph’s sentiments and it’s likely that view is now widespread.
“In the past, teams have come up against the All Blacks and psychologically you think they are unbeatable but now those cracks are showing,” said Leitch.
“It’s doable, and we showed that. Give us an extra 10 minutes and who knows what would have happened.”