Steve Hansen insists there is no gamble involved in changing nine of the All Blacks' matchday squad for their penultimate clash of the Rugby Championship against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Steve Hansen insists there is no gamble involved in changing nine of the All Blacks’ matchday squad for their penultimate clash of the Rugby Championship against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The world champions – who welcome the British & Irish Lions next year – have already won this year’s competition with two games to spare and as a result Hansen has made four changes to the starting XV and nine in total.
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In the backline TJ Perenara is rewarded for his blistering form of late with a start in the No 9 jersey as Aaron Smith is given the night off.
While in the centres Anton Lienert-Brown makes his first start in the No 13 jersey outside Ryan Crotty as Malakai Fekitoa is rested.
And in the pack Liam Squire will make his first ever All Blacks start at No 6 – preferred to Elliot Dixon to replace the injured Jerome Kaino – while Patrick Tuipolotu comes into the second row for Sam Whitelock.
"There's a lot of change for a team that doesn't change much, there's no doubt about that but there's a lot of good reasons for why we need to do it," Hansen said.
"We think they are ready"
Steve Hansen talks about the changes to the #AllBlacks 23 to take on Argentina this weekend.#ARGvNZL pic.twitter.com/h2vlQjdFkv
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 29, 2016
"We're going to go round the world twice; we've got a 24 hour flight to South Africa with no recovery time and we're going to play another seven test matches so at some point we've got to play these people and trust them. We think they're ready."
On the bench Hansen has thrown even more caution to the wind with Damian McKenzie set for his debut if introduced as back three cover.
Ben Smith will provide midfield cover as the other two backs on the bench are Tawera Kerr-Barlow – whose last appearance came off the bench against Wales in June – and Lima Sopoaga.
All Blacks: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Elliot Dixon, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, Damian McKenzie