By Greg Stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is hopeful lock Brodie Retallick will be fit for the Rugby World Cup despite dislocating his shoulder against the Springboks on Saturday.
Retallick was cleared out in a ruck by Springboks opposite RG Snyman and landed awkwardly on his left shoulder. He was in visible pain as he walked off in the 61st minute of the 16-16 draw at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Hansen did not give a timeline for his return to reporters on Sunday but sounded optimistic the former World Player of the Year would be fit to travel to Japan for the Sept. 20-Nov. 2 showpiece.
“Hopefully he will be available for the World Cup. He is one of our best players so that’s good,” the coach said.
The absence of Retallick would be massive blow to Hansen’s plans for the World Cup, with Scott Barrett still on the sidelines with a broken thumb.
Hansen’s depth in the second row falls away after Barrett with Patrick Tuipulotu having struggled to assert himself at international level in the past two years.
Jackson Hemopo has impressed in his four test appearances since he made his debut last year and is likely to partner Sam Whitelock against Australia in their final Rugby Championship match in Perth on Aug. 10.
Retallick missed two months of Super Rugby with a wrist injury this year.
He returned to the All Blacks for their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina last week and was instrumental in galvanising the side in the final few minutes as the Pumas hammered at the tryline.
New Zealand won their opening game 20-16 and are second on the Rugby Championship table on six points after Saturday’s draw with the Springboks, who have seven after they achieved a bonus-point victory over the Wallabies last week.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)