Carter Back in All Blacks Team to Play Argentina
Dan Carter is back and the reserves bench gets a shuffle for the All Blacks unenviable task of taking on the Argentine Los Pumas at home in La Plata.
Carter has been ruled out the last two matches, against Argentina and South Africa, with a calf strain. If he passes a fitness test and takes the field it will mean a 90th test cap for the world record points scorer.
Despite some conjecture he may be overtaken by Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden keeps his replacement spot, moving to the bench to make way for Carter. Halfbacks Aaron Smith and Piri Weepu swap places again, with Smith taking back the starting berth and Weepu awaiting his 65th cap if he gets off the bench.
The favoured locking combination of Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock starting with Brodie Retallick in the reserves, continues for another match. Romano will be looking to make amends for his last game against the Pumas, where he was notably forced backwards a couple of times he had the ball.
With news emerging this week that Richie McCaw will take a six month sabbatical next year, replacement-in-waiting Sam Cane gets his chance on the reserves bench for the first time since the Ireland series. With Liam Messam keeping the number six spot, there is no place for usual bench-man Victor Vito.
The only other change is backs bench cover Tamati Ellison making way for fellow Highlander Ben Smith.
Like Carter, loosehead prop Tony Woodcock also lines up for his 90th test, while next to him hooker Andrew Hore will run on for his 70th test. Fellow number two Keven Mealamu awaits on the bench for cap number 98.
Richie McCaw is rumoured to be battling a leg injury. However, if he takes the field it will be his 44th Rugby Championship match, an All Black record.
The All Blacks lead the championship with 16 points from four wins while Argentina are yet to record a win in their maiden Rugby Championship. However, they earned a draw against the Springboks and lost by only four points to Australia in their last match. While never losing, the All Blacks have traditionally struggled facing the Pumas at home, requiring an 80 minute performance most times they enter the uniquely rabid atmosphere of an Argentinean home ground.
This is the ninth time Argentina have hosted the All Blacks, with their best result being the 1985 21-all draw. When New Zealand last played there they fought for a 25-19 win in 2006. However, many of the regular starting team had been rested for the match, with Jerry Collins leading the side while Richie McCaw recuperated in the stands. Such was the toughness of the match, Collins dropped the f-bomb in his after match interview.
Earlier this week Argentina named an unchanged starting 15 to the one that lost by four points to the Wallabies at home. There are only two changes to the side that lost 21-5 to the All Blacks the week before in Wellington. Martin Rodriguez and Nicolas Vergallo retain their places on the bench for a second match.
RugbyFix Pick: All Blacks by 7
All Blacks Team to play Argentina:
Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith
Argentina Team to play All Blacks:
1 Rodrigo Roncero, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 3 Juan Figallo, 4 Manuel Carizza, 5 Patricio Albacete, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (capitan), 9-Martín Landajo, 10 Juan Martín Hernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 15 Lucas González Amorosino.
Reserves: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Tomás Vallejos, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodríguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
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