Steve Hansen has named his team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in New Plymouth.
After back to back wins against Australia in the first two rounds of the tournament, the All Blacks coach has made lots of changes to his matchday squad.
Tongan-born Hurricanes forward Vaea Fifita is handed his first start at blindside flanker in his second test while experienced Crusaders lock Luke Romano comes in at second-row in place of Sam Whitelock.
The explosive Ardie Savea makes his nineteenth appearance for the men in black as he replaces Sam Cane at openside, with Cane on the bench.
The vastly experienced Wyatt Crockett who missed the second Bledisloe clash through injury returns to the matchday 23 as a replacement.
While there are plenty of changes behind as well, as TJ Perenara replaces Aaron Smith at scrum-half, with Chiefs and Maori scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow making the matchday 23 for the first time this season as a replacement.
The talented Anton Lienert-Brown partners Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield while the outstanding Nehe Milner-Skudder, one of the stars of New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup triumph, returns on the left wing for the first time since that glorious day in November 2015.
Israel Dagg is on the right wing with Damian McKenzie completing a potent back-three. With Ngani Laumape who made his debut back in the summer against the Lions, offering cover for the backs on the bench.
The starting XV boasts plenty of experience with 519 caps as New Zealand look to continue their perfect start to the Southern hemisphere’s showpiece event.
Speaking about his team, Steve Hansen told allblacks.com that Saturday was about taking opportunities;
“This test match is all about us taking opportunities. It’s an opportunity for our players to grow individually and collectively as a team, not only in our preparation throughout the week, but in our performance on Saturday ” he said.
Expecting a hard game against ‘Los Pumas’, he lauded Argentina’s dynamism and physicality, and went on to say that his side would have to be ready for the challenge Daniel Hourcade’s men would offer,
“Argentina are a dynamic, physical team who are growing their game style of game. They are a proud people as well so they’ll be desperate (after their losses against South Africa) so we’ll have to be ready for that challenge”.
Games between the sides tend to be high-scoring affairs, so Saturday should be a cracker.
TEAM NAMING | Here is your #AllBlacks 23 to take on Argentina in New Plymouth this Saturday.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 6, 2017
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