Belfast Telegraph

Retallick and Kaino return from injury to boost Hansen


By Jack de Menezes

The All Blacks have been handed a double boost ahead of their series against the British and Irish Lions after naming both Brodie Retallick and Jerome Kaino in the squad that will take on Samoa on Friday with the pair returning from injury.

26-year-old Retallick has been absent for the Chiefs in recent weeks after being sidelined with a concussion, but will start alongside Sam Whitelock in the second row after coming through his return-to-play protocols, while 34-year-old flanker Kaino has not played since the last week of April due to a knee injury that forced him out of the Blues' victory over the Lions last week.

Both will start in a full strength side named by All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, with captain Kieran Read the only noticeable absentee as the No.8 continues to recover from the broken thumb he suffered at the start of May, meaning that Hurricanes back-row Ardie Savea is given the chance to impress at the base of the scrum.

Dane Coles is sidelined as expected, with the hooker still suffering from concussion issues over the past two months, while there is no Aaron Cruden or Ryan Crotty, the fly-half and centre ruled out with knee and ribs injuries respectively. In Read's absence, full-back Ben Smith captains the All Blacks for their one and only warm-up match against the Pacific Islanders, while Sonny Bill Williams makes his first appearance for the All Blacks since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final after proving his fitness in the Blues' victory over the Lions.

"Whilst we asked for this game to help us prepare for the DHL New Zealand Lions Series, once it became a reality it then took on its own importance - this is a Test match against a quality and very capable opponent," head coach Steve Hansen said.

"The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill. At the very minimum, we will need to match that."

New Zealand team to face Samoa: Ben Smith; Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks; Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock; Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea. Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Jordie Barrett.

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