Brodie Retallick All Blacks relieved Retallick can annoy Namibia and not them

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TOKYO (AP) — Brodie Retallick is available to play, and the All Blacks are relieved.

Now he’s Namibia’s problem.

The former world player of the year will appear for the first time in 10 weeks when New Zealand takes on Namibia on Sunday in the Rugby World Cup.

Retallick dislocated his left shoulder in July against South Africa. But such is his value that the lock was picked in New Zealand’s squad for his second Rugby World Cup in expectation he would be available for the quarterfinals. He has become available two weeks ahead of schedule, and his teammates know he’s ready.

Because he’s been a pest more than usual in training sessions.

As his shoulder has improved, Retallick has been helping out the opposing team against the starting All Blacks in game scenarios. And the starters, used to having Retallick on their side for seven years, have not enjoyed it. Retallick takes the game scenarios so seriously that he also practices gamesmanship. It doesn’t matter that they’re teammates; to him they’re on the other side, so he niggles with pulls, tugs, pushes, and pokes.

“He’s been annoying the last couple of weeks,” stand-in captain Sam Whitelock says.

Retallick and Whitelock will appear together in the second row for a 52nd test. In test rugby, they rank behind only South Africa’s Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield, who started together 60 times.

“He’s definitely annoying (in training) at lineout time, maul time, breakdown,” Whitelock adds. “I know it (annoys) the halfbacks a little bit when they pass and he gives them a wee push o

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