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New Zealand lock Retallick ramps up training

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Maori All Blacks' Tim Bateman (L) and Rob Thompson (C) competes with team Canada's Guiseppe Du Toit during an exhibition game in Vancouver, Canada, on Nov. 3, 2017. Maori All Blacks won 51-9. (Xinhua/Andrew Soong)

TOKYO (Reuters) – All Blacks fans received welcome news yesterday with injured lock Brodie Retallick confirming he was hitting tackle bags at training and expected to increase the intensity of collision on his recovering shoulder this week.

The 2014 World Player of the Year dislocated his shoulder against South Africa in July and suffered nerve damage that he thought might keep him out of the global showpiece.

Coach Steve Hansen, however, selected Retallick anyway on the expectation he would be ready to play again by the knockout stage, although the 28-year-old said he hoped to be on the field earlier than that.

“The shoulder’s cracking along pretty good. Progress is going well,” he told reporters in Tokyo yesterday. “Not sure of an exact date, but hopefully sooner rather than later I’ll be available for selection.

“I’ve got a full range of motion. Strength’s nearly back to where it was. Now it’s slowly building into the contact.

“I’ve used the tackle bag, but with not much ferocity at the moment. We’ll start to build that up this week and I’ll put myself in positions which are less controlled and they’ll just come at you.”

Both Retallick and assistant coach Ian Foster would not be drawn on a timeline of a potential return, with the All Blacks not playing again until October 2.

They then face Namibia (Oct. 6) and Italy on Oct. 12 before the quarter-finals, which they are expected to qualify for at the top of Pool B having beaten the Springboks in Yokohama last Saturday.

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