Monday 25 September 2017

Brodie Retallick urges All Blacks to write their names in history books

Brodie Retallick has urged New Zealand to write their names in history books
Brodie Retallick has urged New Zealand to write their names in history books

Brodie Retallick wants world champions New Zealand to create their own history when they face a Test series decider against the British and Irish Lions.

The Lions have not won a series in New Zealand since 1971, when players like Welsh wizards Barry John and Gerald Davies were at the peak of their powers.

But that is now the prize after a series-levelling victory in Wellington two days ago inflicted a first defeat on the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009.

The All Blacks have also not lost back-to-back Tests for almost six years, while they are unbeaten at next Saturday's venue - Eden Park - in 39 games.

"A lot has been said since the game happened," All Blacks lock Retallick said. "What happened on the weekend is done. We can't change that result now.

"We've just got to get it right this week and nail this week.

"We are in control of the history now. If we can go out there and do the business, then hopefully we come out on the right side.

"Throughout the series, we've touched on the history and the different tours that have come to New Zealand.

"If you look at a World Cup final, some people may only go to one World Cup, and I guess this is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play the Lions, and then try to win a Lions series.

"In that aspect, it's massive. It is just what we are going to do to create our own history. That's the focus, right now.

"It is never good to lose. I have been lucky enough that hasn't happened a lot throughout my career yet (three times in 63 Tests).

"It is frustrating that we didn't get our stuff right and put them under pressure. I guess there is a little bit of anger in there.

"Right now, we are probably feeling a little bit more pressure in the group. It's do or die. It's 1-1.

"It is now or never, and it would be good to go to Saturday right now and not to have to worry about the rest of the week. There is a lot riding on it."

All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith, meanwhile, says that games like the third Test are "what you play rugby for".

Smith and company have now moved to their familiar central Auckland base, from where All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen will aim to plot the Lions' downfall and avoid New Zealand suffering successive Test defeats for a first time since 2011.

"It's what you play rugby for, these big games," Smith said. "I could play today. I am ready to go.

"But it is about building the week and the whole experience. These are the ones you remember."

New Zealand will be without star centre Sonny Bill Williams following his red card in Wellington and subsequent four-week ban, with Malakai Fekitoa likely to feature in the matchday squad following his call-up.

"He is a very physical player, very confrontational," Smith added, of the Highlanders player.

"He will go hard, do his job really well and also probably if he gets an opportunity, maybe there is a bit of a no-fear attitude coming in. He knows what he has to do."

Despite going down to 14 men with 55 minutes left, New Zealand still had their chances against the Lions before conceding a 24-21 second Test defeat.

And Smith knows it is vital they exploit any opportunities that come their way if they want to silence the Lions' roar.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has said he did not think the All Blacks "stressed" his team in attack, and Smith said: "After Saturday's effort, you would have to say exactly that.

"We had our moments. They fronted up in defence, closed up that tight space, and we didn't react really well.

"We didn't help ourselves. We didn't attack where they weren't, and that is something we are going to fix this week.

"There were opportunities there. Those opportunities will present themselves next Saturday, and we've got to be good enough to see them and take them."

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