All Blacks legend Brodie Retallick believes that young lock Josh Lord has the qualities to impress at international level having made his return from injury recently.
The 22-year-old was a surprise inclusion in Ian Foster’s 36-man squad for the Rugby Championship having spent most of the past year on the sidelines.
He returned towards the end of Super Rugby Pacific and has played three times for the Waikato franchise since regaining fitness.
The second-row could well line up for the All Blacks against Argentina this weekend and team-mate for both club and country, Retallick, had nothing but praise for the two-time capped international.
Tallest and heaviest
“He’s a great player and he’s a big man – he’s the tallest one out of all of us. He’s probably the heaviest as well,” Retallick told reporters.
“He’s got a great skill-set for a big man and (he’s) fast. He’s had a bit of a bad run, an unlucky run probably with a few injuries as of late.
“I’m sure that when he gets the opportunity, he’s going to impose himself out there.”
‘Physicality’ will be the watchword for the All Blacks when they take on Argentina this weekend having twice suffered at the hands of Los Pumas over the last few years.
New Zealand suffered their first-ever defeat to the South Americans in 2020 before going down to defeat at home in 2022.
On both occasions the Argentines controlled the physical battle, especially in defence, and Scott Barrett expects another significant duel in the forward exchanges.
“Our previous games against them, even in Australia, the last few years they’ve certainly shown up with plenty of passion and that starts up front with their physicality and their disruptive tendencies around the breakdown,” Barrett told reporters.
“We’re training and preparing for what’s going to come. Especially here in Mendoza, we’re anticipating a very tough Test match.
“[It has been] a good week of training and we’re getting excited for it too.”
Gain line power
Argentina defeated Foster’s men 25-15 in 2020 before overcoming the New Zealanders 25-18 in Christchurch two years later.
They frustrated the All Blacks and constantly sent them behind the gain line, which forced them into a number of errors.
“We have to front up if they’re going to bring it like that,” Barrett added. “We’ll deal with it in our way, whatever that might look like.
“We’re certainly aware of some consequences if they drag us into a bit of biff if that’s what they’re after.
“It’s about building confidence as a team and working on combinations and I guess working out how you want to play as a team.”