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All Black star to miss Springbok clashes

INJURY UPDATE: While losing to Ireland would have been disappointing enough for the All Blacks on Saturday, there’s some added injury to the insult.

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Second row forward Brodie Retallick is likely to miss the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship.

Retallick was involved in a head clash with Ireland prop Andrew Porter in the 49th minute of the match.

Porter, as the defending player, was rightly held responsible for the clash and was shown a yellow card for the dangerous tackle, which forced Ireland to play with 14 men for 10 minutes.

Retallick, however, was not able to return to the field after the tackle and in the post-match press conference, All Blacks coach Ian Foster revealed the 95-cap lock won’t be back on the park anytime soon.

“He’s got a broken cheekbone from a head-on-head contact,” said Foster following the 32-22 defeat.

“Broken bones are sort of six to eight [weeks],” he added when queried for how long Retallick would be out of action.

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If Retallick is indeed sidelined for just six weeks, he will likely be ready for action in time for the All Blacks’ first home game of the Rugby Championship when they take on Argentina in Christchurch.

He won’t, however, feature against the Springboks in South Africa over the opening two rounds of the competition.

Should Retallick’s injury require a longer time to heal – or if he’s simply not deemed match-fit even once he’s allowed back on the field, he might only be available for the final rounds of the tournament, when the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in Melbourne and Auckland.

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Either way, losing the fourth most experienced player in the squad will be a big blow for Foster’s men, who already have to cope without the likes of first-choice loosehead prop Joe Moody and first-choice midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.

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The fact that Porter was only sin-binned for the tackle on Retallick will have also hit a few nerves in New Zealand, given an almost identical tackle from All Black Angus Ta’avao in last weekend’s loss saw the tighthead prop red-carded and banned for three matches.

Foster agreed during the post-match presser that Porter’s yellow was likely another case of ‘card lottery’.

Compounding frustrations will be the fact that New Zealand-born midfielder Bundee Aki was also shown to have connected with Ofa Tuungafasi’s head with his shoulder when recklessly attempting to clear out a breakdown early in the second half.

By Tom Vinicombe, RugbyPass

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