All Blacks coach Steven Hansen said that the tragedy that befell lock Brodie Retallick puts rugby in perspective.
Retallick‚ arguably the world’s best lock‚ pulled out of this weekend’s Rugby Championship encounter against the Springboks at Newlands after his baby boy died prematurely at the weekend.
“Obviously it is disappointing that Brodie’s not here but it’s an even greater blow about what’s happened‚” Hansen said minutes after the team’s arrival in Cape Town.
“It puts the game of rugby squarely where it should be; it’s a sport and there are bigger things in life.
“We just hope he and Niki [wife] are dealing with it well‚ which I’m sure they are.
“It takes time but we’re thinking of them and sending lots of love.”
The All Blacks have already won the Rugby Championship with one round of matches to go‚ but Hansen was adamant that it wouldn’t change their outlook and approach when taking the Springboks on in Cape Town for the first time since 2008.
“If you know the All Blacks‚ you know they’re under pressure to win and to win well‚ so it doesn’t change anything‚” Hansen said.
“The fact that we’ve won the Rugby Championship is pleasing‚ but we’re up against one of our greatest foes‚ one we share a lot of history with and a team we respect.”
The All Blacks thrashed the Springboks 57-0 in their last outing in in Albany two weeks ago‚ which has put the home team under huge pressure.
The Boks managed to stage a minor recovery with 27-27 draw against Australia in Bloemfontein last Saturday‚ but only an improved showing against New Zealand will ease the pressure on beleaguered Bok coach Allister Coetzee.
“I thought the Boks were dangerous against Australia and if they were a little more accurate at times they would’ve scored some more points‚” Hansen said.
“If they keep doing what they’re doing and keep growing that‚ and get better at it‚ the type of game they’re trying to play suits them.
“It will make them dangerous in the future.
“The scoreboard is more for the Springboks and Springbok fans to think about.
“If you ask our guys after the game in North Harbour‚ whilst the score looked big‚ they knew they had been in a contest.
“We were pretty fortunate because we created chances and took them and they didn’t take all of theirs.