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Thirteen-test All Blacks prop Karl Tu’inukuafe concedes he might not make the cut for the Rugby World Cup.
OPINION: The lock and loose forward units will attract the most attention when All Blacks coach Steve Hansen slams his World Cup selection cards on the table on Wednesday.
Uncertainty around lock Brodie Retallick, who is still recovering from the dislocated shoulder he suffered against the Springboks on July 27, could have a significant ripple effect on the 31-man squad that travels to Japan next month.
Such is the value of 77-test lock Retallick, Hansen may be prepared to regard him as excess baggage for the pool games against South Africa, Canada, Namibia and Italy.
That, in turn, may allow the medical staff to focus solely on getting the towering lock fit for the quarterfinal – the opponent could be Ireland, Scotland or Japan – on October 19-20.
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The easy solution will be to leave Retallick out of the squad. But that just wouldn’t do. The big rig has to go to Japan, surely.
If Hansen adopts the attitude that he and his fellow selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox cannot afford to leave Retallick in New Zealand, they will have to scrap the template that worked so well in 2015, when they invited just three locks in Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano and Retallick to attend the World Cup in Britain.
Whitelock started all seven games, five of Retallick’s six appearances were in the run-on team and Romano got two caps in the pool fixtures.
But in the sudden-death phase it w
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