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Lock Brodie Retallick has returned for the All Blacks in arguably their strongest side for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Ireland in Tokyo.
The three-times world champions gave squad players and those returning from injury some game time and trialled combinations against Canada and Namibia but were unable to field their top side against Italy after the match was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.
The only change to the pack that opened their campaign against South Africa with a 23-13 victory in Yokohama was the selection of Retallick after he returned on 6 October against Namibia after two months out with a dislocated shoulder.
Retallick played 30 minutes in Tokyo before being substituted to manage his playing time but was unable to get more minutes into his legs ahead of the quarter-finals when their final pool match was scrapped.
“He will go for as long as we want him to,” said head coach Steve Hasnsen. “He has a big motor and there are no question marks about his fitness. And we have Scott Barrett on the bench, a very good player.”
Ryan Crotty, who started the South Africa game, has been replaced by Jack Goodhue in the midfield with Anton Lienert-Brown playing inside centre.
Captain Kieran Read, who was rested for the Namibia game, returns at number eight to lead the side in his 125th test, while the dual playmaker axis of Beauden Barrett at fullback and Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf has been reinstated.
Barrett’s younger brother Jordie made his
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