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If there’s one area that will sit high on Ian Foster and John Plumtree’s immediate agenda next year it’s bolstering the All Blacks locking depth.
Expect 2020’s new era to usher fresh faces into the second-row.
The All Blacks have been operating with limited locking resources for some time – four is barely enough – and with Brodie Retallick absent from the New Zealand game for the next 18 months, stocks are set to be severely examined.
Unlike South Africa, where ridiculously sized humans seem to sprout from every vineyard and braai, New Zealand doesn’t tend to produce locks at the same rate.
Skill and speed over size is often our way.
Outside backs burst on the scene every year to create an abundance of options that push established figures toward overseas riches well before their cash in date is due.
Loose forwards develop at a similar, regular rate – so much so that the All Blacks often attempt to convert these players into second-row options.
That’s because when it comes to locks, talent starts to thin out.
Sam Whitelock and Retallick have set the benchmark for the All Blacks since 2012 but as Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changin’.
Retallick, the world’s best lock when fully fit, will play under Wayne Smith at Japanese club Kobe as part of his sabbatical deal and, therefore, won’t be available for the All Blacks until mid-2021. He leaves a gap
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