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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Farrell warns of dangers of destructive Retallick

Brodie Retallick
Brodie Retallick

Andy Farrell will not be the secret to Ireland's success over New Zealand, because there is no secret.

The three wins with England in 2012, Ireland in 2016 and the British & Irish Lions in 2017 have not been his alone.

Sure, the ex-Rugby League legend is the foremost expert in the fashionable rush defence.

At best, that can limit what New Zealand want to do. There also has to be a plan to undo their defence.

"I've lost against them a lot more than I've won," Farrell said.

"They're a good side, aren't they? What they are masters at is when things go wrong, their confidence to stick to the plan, stay on point. They stick to the plan."

Unlike most other nations in the world, it starts with their attack, not their defence.

"The reality of what we're coming up against this weekend is that they are the best attack in world rugby.

"That's probably one of the main reasons why they are on top of the tree."

The culture of New Zealand rugby is grounded in the catch-pass and perfecting the basics of the game.

Then, there is the mental edge from reigning as the number-one ranked nation for the last nine years.

Calm

Winning for so long breeds expectation, not just from outside the squad, but from inside it too.

What makes them different?

"Their ability to stay calm and stick to the processes and not panic, play good territory, hit people on the break, play at speed. All the guys are comfortable on the ball," said Farrell.

"They're all good attacking players.

"Even their front rowers have got a good feel for time and space.

"They've been playing their system for quite some time now.

"They're not trying to reinvent the wheel. They're just very good at what they do."

They also have a core group of leaders, none more potent than their second rows, especially Brodie Retallick.

The 2014 World Player of the Year almost single-handedly rescued New Zealand from the swamp in Twickenham.

It came through three lineout swipes in the second-half, rising ahead of Maro Itoje to undermine Jamie George's throwing.

The psychological damage done last Saturday could have repercussions when England come to the Aviva in February. The All Blacks can do that. They can climb inside your head and stay there.

"Just look at the game from the weekend and what Retallick, as far as the pressure at the front of the lineout," said Farrell.

"It stops continuity and it puts the pressure on the lineout for the rest of the game."

There is more, so much more, to the his game.

There is the added value of presence, an intimidating presence.

"It isn't just that," added Farrell.

"You look at Brodie Retallick and you see an enforcer as far as the New Zealand pack is concerned.

"It isn't just that neither," he said.

"He's got good sleight of hand, holds width well, has got good feel on the ball.

"He's actually got good feet that people under-estimate and, for a big man, he's really good over the ball.

"The fitness of the guy astounds me. He's such a big guy.

"The speed he gets back onto his feet and gets back in the game, keeps going and going for 80 minutes."

Most of the time, you don't get one without the other.

"With (Sam) Whitelock, you've got a workhorse," he stated.

"Those two guys can go 80 minutes, no problem and keep building through those 80 minutes as well.

"They're a special pair and they are part of a well-oiled machine that's been together for quite some time."

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