Brodie Retallick Rúaidhrí O’Connor: ‘Steve Hansen unconcerned by time off but All Blacks may be rusty for Ireland clash’

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Brodie Retallick New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen, left, and Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen, left, and Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

If the All Blacks’ tournament was going as planned, they wouldn’t have needed a maximum intensity training session last Friday.

In the absence of a match, they were forced to go at it hard between themselves in Nagoya before battening down the hatches to ride out Typhoon Hagibis.

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They will either be fighting fresh or undercooked in Tokyo this Saturday, four weeks after their last match of note against South Africa. We won’t know until the game kicks off and, in truth, neither will they.

The balance of being able to arrive at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup ready to perform is a difficult one to achieve, and Ireland and New Zealand are in very different shape at the end of an imbalanced pool stage.

Like Ireland, the world champions started strong and earned the right to negotiate their way through their pool on their own terms.

Defeat to Japan sent Joe Schmidt back to the drawing board, putting Ireland on course for a daunting last-eight clash this Saturday and forcing him to select a stronger-than-expected team for their final pool match against Samoa.

It might just have worked in his favour, even if he argued that having the extra time to recover and prepare over a weekend off was the preferred option. His team look the better for being battle-hardened.

Brodie Retallick brodie.jpg

Brodie Retallick of the All Blacks suffers a dislocated shoulder during the 2019 Rugby Championship Test Match between New Zealand and South Africa at Westpac Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Steve Hansen is in a very different place. His side were superb in the way they handled South Africa, and the comfortable wins over Canada and Namibia afforded him the opportunity to rotate his squad.

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But the cancellation of last Saturday’s final Pool B match against Italy means his team are in a weird sort of limbo as they approach the first hurdle of three on their way to a third successive World Cup triumph.

Where, for instance, is Brodie Retallick at with his fitness after just 30 minutes of rugby since he dislocated his shoulder on July 27?

Certainly, he could have done with the Italy game goi

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