- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 5 July 2022, 2:35PM
By Liam Napier
Two All Blacks locks, Sam Whitelock and Tupou Vaa'i, have been ruled out of the second test against Ireland in Dunedin.
Chiefs second-rower Vaa'i is the latest player to contract Covid while test centurion Whitelock self reported delayed onset concussion following the 42-19 Eden Park victory.
Under the new 12-day World Rugby stand down protocols, Whitelock is now expected to be unavailable for the remainder of the series.
At the All Blacks request, the New Zealand Rugby board has used its discretion to sign off Patrick Tuipulotu immediately joining the All Blacks squad as a replacement player after his return from a six month stint in Japan.
Tuipulotu played club rugby for Ponsonby last weekend but, prior to receiving an exemption from the NZ Rugby board, he had to play for Auckland in the NPC before being eligible for the All Blacks.
The absence of Whitelock and Vaa'i will force changes to the All Blacks starting team this weekend, with either Scott Barrett shifting from blindside to lock or Tuipulotu partnering Brodie Retallick in the second-row.
The All Blacks have also called in Highlanders lock Josh Dickson from the Māori squad and Highlanders loose forward Shannon Frizell to train with the team this week.
Addressing the latest deflections, All Blacks captain Sam Cane admitted Whitelock's lineout nous was a big loss but he backed others to fill the void.
"It's not ideal. Sam was awesome in the weekend. He became the second most capped All Black of all time which is hugely impressive. We'll no doubt miss his leadership and what he brings," Cane said following the All Blacks Tuesday training at the University Oval.
"Tupou had been playing well all Super Rugby and was hanging out for his opportunity so it's a tough pill for him to swallow.
"We've got to the stage where anyone who hasn't had it, it's lurking and it's going to strike soon and poor Tups had to get it this week.
"In terms of replacements it's great to have a 40-odd test All Black in Patrick Tuipulotu to call in. He trained with us last week which was awesome so he's up to speed and he'll slip in pretty seamlessly."
Brodie Retallick, who appears to have recovered from a poke in the eye, will assume responsibility for calling the All Blacks lineout – a task he assumed last year when Whitelock remained at home for the birth of his third child.
"Sam runs our lineout particularly well. Brodie will take over that mantle. He did that for the majority of the Rugby Championship last year so he's ready and looking forward to doing that. It's crazy he's played 90-odd tests and his locking partner has always been the one running the lineout. He's done it at Super Rugby time and time again. Other than that it'll be business as usual.
"It's impressive the way it doesn't fluster the boys the just get on and know someone else will step up. That's the way it is again."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission