Retallick on Eben

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Jul 03, 2024, 21:12

'My arms are toothpicks, his are cannons': Retallick's greatest rival

Across his 109-cap All Blacks career, Brodie Retallick played with and against some of the greatest locks that have ever packed down in the heart of the scrum.

From Paul O’Connell and Victor Matfield early in his career to Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje more recently, the 33-year-old has locked horns with bona fide greats of the game.

But of all the members of the engine room that the All Black has competed against, he views Springbok Eben Etzebeth as his greatest rival.

All Blacks and lineout king Brodie Retallick opens up to Jim Hamilton in the latest episode of Walk the Talk. Full episode coming soon, exclusively to RugbyPass TV

Having both made their international debuts in 2012, this is a rivalry that has developed over time and has perhaps intensified with every Super Rugby, Rugby Championship and most recently World Cup encounter between the giants.

Stats-wise the pair are fairly well-matched. Both are centurions, both have a World Cup to their names, and though Etzebeth has two to Retallick’s one, the Kiwi has a World Rugby player of the year accolade to boast. Style-wise they are both well-rounded, ‘modern’ second rows- the Springbok may have his physicality dial turned to eleven, just as the All Black has his subtlety

It truly is one of the best positional rivalries of the last decade, and it is one Retallick himself has relished.

Speaking to Jim Hamilton on Walk the Talk, coming this week on RugbyPass TV, the Kobelco Kobe Steelers lock said that his counterpart has “been the best for a long period of time,” and therefore someone he always wanted to measure himself up against.

“I’m not sure exactly how many times we’ve played each other,” he said. “But it’s over a number of years and obviously he’s a phenomenal rugby player as well and someone you try and measure yourself up against.

“My mindset is you want to be the best, and to be the best you’ve got to be better than everyone else and he’s probably been the best for a long period of time. So you want to measure yourself against a player of his quality.

“He makes it look easy at times. He’s got the skill set and he’s played over 100 games for the Springboks. To be still doing it that well, I think he deserves to be talked about like that.”

The difference in styles between the pair could perhaps be best summed up by a photo of them earlier in their careers, where the 120kg Retallick recalled the striking difference in the size of their arms.

“There’s a great photo when I think we were like 22, 23,” Retallick sad. “And we’re both holding each other and my arms look like toothpicks and his are like cannons, and the number of times I got sent that from people like ‘look at you, you need to start going to the gym,’ and I’m like ‘I’m trying my best!'”

Jul 03, 2024, 23:42

Nice article….an all time great playing for us and it’s taken a long time to get the respect he deserves. For me the number one Bok of the last 10 years.

Jul 04, 2024, 00:06

For me easily the best lock I have ever seen play the game

Jul 04, 2024, 00:45

ouDawie, you wouldn't pick a skinny Retallick or any other stringbean lock ......... surely ?

Jul 04, 2024, 01:17

Eben has grown so much….not the aggressive lunatic anymore, but a formidable Bok lock….there is only one Eben Etzebeth….really hope that he will make the next WC and hopefully our Captain….if Deon can do it so can Eben…really someone the Bok management should take care of….Also Mostert and I have to agree with Plum that he is also a one of kind that might make it to the next WC….Brillant lock Pairing ….Credit to Rassie on that one, he got it spot on.

Jul 04, 2024, 08:37

Actually blob if you knew your rugby you would know that Retallick weighs over 120kg - there is nothing small about him

A very respectable 123kg - a real lock unlike our 112kg powder puff

Jul 04, 2024, 08:44

Bakkies and Eben the dream lock pairing.

Jul 04, 2024, 10:01


The greatesst Springbok lock ever.  The pre-90 locks were much smaller in built and in my b ook better than Bakkies Botha as well.      

Jul 04, 2024, 10:59

What does 8 kg difference really make. Just that your props have to up their weights in the gym to lift your fat ass. 

I put 8kgs easily over a weekend of boozing and eating 

Jul 04, 2024, 11:27

A huge difference in espect of ball protection and recovery.   Light locks are good in line-out play - but routinely lose in carrying  balls in traffic and defence against forwsards - where they need help to make tackles and the forwrds making forward in the tackles made by light weight locks.   Also scoring from mauls neasrf the lines are where light weight locks cail badyand are carrfied  backwards and not forward.  . Botfh Matrfield and Mostert suffered as a result of weight deficiency.   


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