AllBlacks team to play Argentina named     06 Sep 2012    

The team is as follows: (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes new cap)

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (87)
2. Keven Mealamu (95)
3. Owen Franks (36)
4. Luke Romano (3)
5. Brodie Retallick (5)
6. Victor Vito (14)
7. Richie McCaw - captain (108)
8. Kieran Read (40)
9. Aaron Smith (5)
10. Daniel Carter (89)
11. Julian Savea (2)
12 Ma’a Nonu (68)
13.Conrad Smith (58)
14. Cory Jane (33)
15. Israel Dagg (17)


16. Andrew Hore (67)
17. Charlie Faumuina *
18. Samuel Whitelock (30)
19. Liam Messam (12)
20. Piri Weepu (61)
21. Aaron Cruden (12)
22. Ben Smith (6)

The squad features the return to the starting XV of the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock and centre Conrad Smith, who have recovered from their respective rib cartilage and eye injuries, while there’s a reversal of roles for loose forward Victor Vito and lock Brodie Retallick who come into the starting XV for Liam Messam and Samuel Whitelock, who are on the bench.

The other change to the starting XV sees winger Julian Savea get his third Test start, replacing Hosea Gear on the left wing, while prop Charlie Faumuina, looks set to make his All Blacks debut from the pine, replacing Ben Franks on the reserves bench.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We have been working on constantly improving our game and that has again been our focus this week. We were happy with our intensity and attitude in the last Test against Australia, but not so happy with our execution when we didn’t get the decision-making process right on occasions, so we are looking for improvement in that area this weekend.”

Hansen said it was exciting having Argentina in the new Investec Rugby Championship and the All Blacks were under no illusion of how tough the Test would be.

“It is going to be very physical, especially up front where they are traditionally very strong. We also have immense respect for their backline abilities plus they have one of the best defensive structures in modern rugby. They are always looking to work as a unit to shut you down,” Hansen added.

Interesting facts

• The All Blacks have played Argentina in 14 Tests since 1985, with the last Test the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match which the All Blacks won 33 -10. The All Blacks have won 13 times with a 21-all draw in 1985.

• The current All Blacks squad have had little experience playing Argentina, compared to other international opponents. All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw, hooker Andrew Hore and prop Tony Woodcock have played them just three times in their long All Blacks careers.

All Blacks Investec Rugby Championship match schedule

1. Australia (ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 8.00PM, Saturday 18 August). All Blacks 27 Australia 19.
2. Australia (Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 25 August). All Blacks 22 Australia 0.
3. Argentina (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 8 September). Get your tickets from ticketek- 0800 842 538. TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE.
4. South Africa (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 7.35PM, Saturday 15 September). Get your tickets from ticketdirect - 0800 224 224. EXTRA SEATS!
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 8.10PM, Saturday 29 September)
6. South Africa (FNB Stadium ‘Soccer City’, Johannesburg, 5.00PM, Saturday 6 October)