Fresh faces on show for All Blacks in Argentina

New Zealand wrapped up the Rugby Championship title with two rounds to spare thanks to a fourth bonus-point win in a row - this time against South Africa. [more]

Fresh faces on show for All Blacks in Argentina

New Zealand wrapped up the Rugby Championship title with two rounds to spare thanks to a fourth bonus-point win in a row – this time against South Africa.

That doesn’t mean they will be letting the foot off the gas this weekend in Buenos Aires however as they look to maintain their perfect run since winning the World Cup in 2015.

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And with The British & Irish Lions heading to New Zealand next year, there are places up for grabs with the All Blacks, who made nine changes to their matchday squad to take on the Pumas.
New-found maturity for Perenara
One of the most eye-catching decisions comes at scrum-half where TJ Perenara gets his chance with Aaron Smith rested.

While Smith has established himself as Steve Hansen’s go-to option at nine, and among the very best in his position on the planet, Perenara has pushed him hard with some excellent performances in Super Rugby.

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Still, it’s not been easy to earn game time with the All Blacks but Hansen believes the 24-year-old has earned the opportunity – particularly after making a difference in the return fixture against Argentina.

BATTLE OF THE NINES! Who will come out on top when @Tj_Perenara and Martin Landajo clash at halfback this weekend?#ARGvNZL

— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 30, 2016

“I think sometimes he’s fallen into the trap of what a lot of young guys do when the guy ahead of them is playing so well and everyone is giving him the raps [raptures],” he said.

“They try and play, or try too hard and try and do everything. Since the June series and missing out altogether he’s just sat down and worked out that he’s just got to do his job and when he does that he’s a really good rugby player.

“Every game he has played since the June series, where he didn’t get too many, he’s been outstanding. He’s clearing the ball off the deck the way we want him to. He’s just doing everything right.”

McKenzie gets his shot

Perenara isn’t the only player who has had to bide his time, with Damian McKenzie outstanding for the Chiefs this season but still waiting for that first cap.

It looks to have arrived after he was included in the matchday squad for the first time this week, with a spot on the bench.

A versatile playmaker, Hansen was keen to make sure McKenzie was ready mentally before throwing him into the mix.


He explained: “It’s about doing stuff off the park as well as on it. He’s been a lot better within the environment with his homework and all that stuff and I think he’s confident he can go out there and play well and that’s what you want.

“Because it will be a shock to his system as it is to every guy who plays his first Test and you’ve got to make sure they’re mentally capable of coping with it.”
Argentina want to go the distance

The Pumas return home for their final two matches and will be desperate for an improved showing against the All Blacks.

In Hamilton earlier this month, they were very much in contention for 55 minutes before falling away to a big defeat.

A loss to Australia followed and Daniel Hourcade hopes his team have learned from their trip how to pace themselves in a game.

Every game that you play teaches you something, beyond simply the result,” he said.

“We had a great 55 minutes in Hamilton and we have to learn not to overdo it and to manage our energy levels.

“We need to put the pressure on them when we see that we aren’t making ground. We’ve got a very clear strategy, we know how to attack them and we have to put them under pressure both in attack and defence.”
Wallabies look to cement second spot

The other game of the weekend sees Australia travel to Pretoria to take on South Africa looking to make it three wins on the spin.

The Springboks have rung the changes from the team that lost in New Zealand last time out, with Morne Steyn and Pat Lambie included at fly-half and full-back respectively.

And despite the fact South Africa come into the game with just one win from their first four matches, Michael Cheika is expecting a huge battle.


“They’re one of the traditional powerhouses of world rugby and that doesn’t go away,” he said.

“All that other stuff is rubbish – I don’t think that the last two games that we have played count for much and I don’t think what they’ve done in the last couple of games counts for much either.

“I’m sure we’re going to see the best Springbok team and we’ve got to bring our game as well. We’ll see where we end up.”

Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires
Argentina: 15. Joaquin Tuculet, 14. Santiago Cordero, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11. Ramiro Moyano, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo, 1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2. Agustin Creevy (c), 3. Ramiro Herrera, 4. Guido Petti, 5. Matias Alemanno, 6. Pablo Matera, 7. Javier Ortega Desio, 8. Facundo Isa.
Replacements: 16. Julian Montoya, 17. Lucas Noguera, 18. Enrique Pieretto, 19. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 20. Leonardo Senatore, 21. Tomas Cubelli, 22. Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23. Matias Orlando.

?New Zealand: 15. Ben Smith, 14. Israel Dagg, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 1. Joe Moody, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 5. Brodie Retallick, 6. Liam Squire, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Kieran Read (c)
Replacements: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19. Sam Whitelock, 20. Elliot Dixon, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Lima Sopoaga, 23. Damian McKenzie

South Africa v Australia, Pretoria
South Africa: 15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jessie Kriel, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Rudy Paige, 1. Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Adriaan Strauss (c), 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Francois Louw, 7. Teboho Mohoje, 8. Warren Whiteley
Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Stephen Kitshoff, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Willem Alberts, 21. Jaco Kriel, 22. Willie le Roux, 23. Lionel Mapoe

Australia: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Samu Kerevi, 12. Bernard Foley, 11. Reece Hodge,10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 1. Scott Sio, 2. Stephen Moore (c), 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Dean Mumm, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Sean McMahon
Replacements (one to be omitted): 16. James Hanson, 17. James Slipper, 18. Tom Robertson, 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Scott Fardy, 21. Lopeti Timani, 22. Nick Phipps, 23. Tevita Kuridrani, 24. Sefa Naivalu

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