Brodie Retallick has insisted “I’m not a defending champion” and rejected the premise New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup rivals will copy the All Blacks’ all-court game.
New Zealand lock Retallick was voted World Player of the Year in 2014, with peers and coaches across the globe purring at his remarkable skill-set.
The 24-year-old was still awaiting a Super Rugby debut when New Zealand claimed World Cup glory in 2011, Retallick watching the 8-7 victory over France at his local fire station.
Retallick’s humbling naivety strikes in claiming no one will mimic the All Black blueprint – in mapping England’s World Cup route some 18 months back, Stuart Lancaster hailed the playmaking lock as the paragon of front-five creativity.
“I’m not sure that teams try to copy us or teams try to copy each other,” said Retallick, unaware of Lancaster’s previous declarations.
“Everyone pretty much has a different style, different strengths and weaknesses.”
England head coach Lancaster’s fixation with Retallick is entirely founded. The Rangiora native is a regular contributor to New Zealand’s backline phase play, with a half-back’s hands to complement his front-five frame and set-play steel.
The World Cup holders will open their defence of the Webb Ellis Cup by taking on Argentina at Wembley Stadium on Sunday week.
Boss Steve Hansen has been at pains to ensure the All Blacks offer up no trace of arrogance at this World Cup. The head coach clearly fears pride preceding a fall, as has been hinted over the 2007 quarter-final defeat to France that promp-ted much Kiwi soul-searching.
And later Retallick offered a compelling insight into just why he cannot view his first World Cup campaign as any kind of defence.
“First off I’m not a defending champion: I wasn’t there in 2011, I’m coming over here for my first World Cup and I’m just excited to be here and be part of it,” he said.
Italy captain Sergio Parisse has declared himself unfit for the opening World Cup clash against France at Twickenham, the Italian management announced on Saturday.
– INTERVIEW: #RWC11 ghosts still haunt Roberts
The 31-year-old Argentine-born No 8, capped 112 times by Italy and their star player, has not fully recovered after undergoing surgery to drain a haematoma last Monday.
He picked up the injury, a swelling of clotted blood, in a muscle in his left leg in Italy's World Cup warm-up defeat to Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
The federation initially said Parisse would not meet up with the Italy team in Rome on Saturday but will instead link up "at a later date" in England.
Manager Jacques Brunel said he was hoping Parisse would be fit for Italy's second game, against Canada the following Saturday.
After the Group D curtain-raiser against the French Italy face Ireland, Canada and Romania.
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has angrily denied allegations of doping made against the triple European champions.
Marseille prosecutors have launched an investigation into several pharmacies in Toulon after notification from France’s anti doping authority (AFDL).
Reports in France alleged Toulon players had been supplied with anabolic steroids but Boudjellal moved quickly to deny those claims.
– Wales: Leigh Halfpenny ruled out of Rugby World Cup
– England: RFU would allow Lancaster to lead British Lions
– Wales: Team must press on after injuries to key players
– England: Jonnny May seems set for World Cup spot
The billionaire comic book magnate insists the investigation is solely centred around social security fraud and one pharmacist, not Toulon.
“No player is concerned in this affair, it’s totally unfounded information,” Boudjellal said.
“This is related to a social security fraud; that concerns the pharmacist not RCT.”
Cote d’Azur powerhouse club Toulon have swept to an unprecedented three straight European titles.
Former France coach Bernard Laporte has played his part in Toulon’s rich success and remains head coach for another season before departing to chase the presidency of the French rugby union.
After dealing with that story, Mourad Boudjellal announces that Toulon have signed Tom Taylor! https://t.co/co7IDevTYR
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) September 8, 2015
Boudjellal hinted at internal politics amid Laporte’s future ambitions as playing a role in the investigations.
“I have a strong feeling there is a will against Toulon and a person who is running for president of the FFR,” said Boudjellal.
Meanwhile, former Australian international prop Salesi Ma’afu faces jail after French prosecutors requested an eight-month prison sentence for an
The 32-year-old Toulon player, capped 14 times, is believed to have been involved in a heated argument over a parking place on August 16 and to have hit someone who attempted to intervene. The case was adjourned until November 10.