With their opening match of Super Rugby just days away, Brodie Retallick has a mixture of nerves and excitement ahead of a season where he knows many will be looking at him as the ‘go to’ guy.
At 24 years of age, Retallick is arguably the best lock in world rugby and his performances in the field prove it, almost on a weekly basis.
A vital cog in the All Blacks RWC victory in 2015, Retallick has had a good rest over the summer and is looking forward to another busy year of rugby.
Retallick played in both pre season trials where the Chiefs beat the Waratahs before falling to the Blues in an ordinary performance last Friday. On reflection, Retallick said the team has sat down and looked at individual performances in order to get gremlins ironed out.
“There is still a few things we are working on but it is exciting to get into the real stuff now that the trial games are out of the way,” Retallick said.
In Saturday’s opener, Retallick will go up against good friend and All Black teammate Sam Whitelock. The winning of the game, according to Retallick, isn’t just determined by the battle between the two forward packs.
“It is always good to go up against quality opposition, they have a great pack, but if we can get our tight five going forward it will help a long way to winning, hopefully we can assert a bit of dominance and let the backs to their work,” Retallick said.
Likely to partner with Michael Allardice in the opening round, Retallick has been impressed with his understudy.
“He is a great player, and with Dominic being injured, him and others have had to take over a lot of the workload and push themselves hard,” Retallick said.
Retallick made his debut for the Chiefs back in 2012 and has since gone on to amass 59 caps with four tries scored in four years of Super Rugby.
Critics would say that just one try per year at Super Rugby level isn’t enough to warrant continual selection for the All Blacks, but it is Retallick’s role as a leader that has been the biggest noticeable aspect of Retallick’s game.
On the field, Retallick is a powerhouse at set piece time and a constant threat at the breakdown and in lineouts.
Part of the 2012 and 2013 back-to-back championship winning Chiefs side, Retallick realises the thirst that rugby fans in the Waikato region and beyond for a return to the top of Southern Hemisphere’s flagship domestic competition.
Retallick knows there is a long season ahead, and as an integral part of the side, Retallick knows a lot of the onus is on him to help the Chiefs back to the top. This is all being done while adapting to the new setup in Super Rugby, including a new bonus-point system where a team is required to score three more tries than the opposition to secure an extra point, something that has been a big talking point by players and media alike.
“We are trying our best, what will be will be, but we have two new coaches on board with Dave so we are just trying to work together as a team and put what we have been doing in training out on the field in pressure situations,” Retallick.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says that Retallick doesn’t need to do anything special for the Chiefs in 2016, just go out on the field and deliver the same performances that has saw the 24-year old lock be crowned IRB World Player of the year in 2014.
“Hopefully he can be as mean as normal,” Rennie laughed, “Brodie will be the instigator of the physicality up front that we need but we really just want him to deliver what he normally does,” Rennie said.
Retallick, and the Chiefs, get their season underway on Saturday night in Christchurch against the Crusaders.