Retallick joins NZ injury list ahead of 1st test vs France

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick has been ruled out of the first test against France on Saturday, increasing pressure on the All Blacks who face a steadily mounting injury toll.

Retallick withdrew from the squad on Monday because of a pectoral muscle injury. His regular locking partner and captain Sam Whitelock was later passed fit, ending his three-week recovery from a concussion.

Skipper Kieran Read is unavailable as he recuperates from back surgery and center Sonny Bill Williams is out of the series after knee surgery.

Inside center Ryan Crotty followed Whitelock in being cleared for Saturday’s test against France after recovering from a head injury. Backrower Sam Cane is likely to play despite an abdominal strain.

Head coach Steve Hansen on Monday added locks Luke Romano and Tom Franklin and flanker Matt Todd to his squad as injury cover.

Meanwhile, backrower Liam Squire is free to play in the match after being cleared of foul play at a judicial hearing on Sunday.