New Zealand made six changes to face Argentina in the Rugby Championship this weekend, naming Julian Savea on the wing for his third Test start and calling up Aaron Cruden at fly-half after Dan Carter was ruled out.
Prop Tony Woodcock and outside center Conrad Smith return to the starting lineup after recovering from rib and eye injuries, respectively. Flanker Victor Vito and lock Brodie Retallick come in for Liam Messam and Samuel Whitelock in the other changes from the 22-0 win against Australia on Aug. 25.
Fly-half Carter, elite Test rugby’s record points scorer, was earlier named as a starter then was withdrawn because of a calf muscle strain, the team said. Beauden Barrett will take Cruden’s place on the bench for the match in Wellington.
“At training this morning it was apparent that he would not be able to play so we have done the sensible thing and withdrawn him from the Test match,” All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said of Carter in an e-mailed statement.
Hansen, who has coached the team to five straight wins since being appointed in December, said he’s expecting a “very physical” encounter in two days against Argentina, which is making its debut in the southern hemisphere rugby championship. New Zealand leads the standings after two rounds following back-to-back wins against Australia.
“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,” he said. “We are looking for improvement in that area this weekend.”
The All Blacks have won 13 of their 14 previous meetings with the Pumas, with the teams also drawing 21-21 in Buenos Aires 27 years ago.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan today finalized his 22-man squad for the match at Westpac Stadium by choosing his seven reserves. The Pumas lost their tournament opener in South Africa before drawing 16-16 with the Springboks on Aug. 25.
Australia hooker Stephen Moore will miss the Wallabies’ game against South Africa in Perth in two days with a strained right hamstring, the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement.
Moore, who was set to pass Jeremy Paul as Australia’s most-capped hooker by appearing in his 73rd Test, was injured in training today. He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by Tatafu Polota Nau, with Saia Fainga’a recalled to the bench, as the Wallabies go for their record fifth straight win against the Springboks.
NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Victor Vito, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock .
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Charlie Faumuina, Samuel Whitelock, Liam Messam, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith.
ARGENTINA: Martin Rodriguez, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Horacio Agulla, Juan Martin Hernandez, Nicolas Vergallo; Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Julio Farias Cabello, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Figallo, Eusebio Guinazu, Rodrigo Roncero.
Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Marcos Ivan Ayerza, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Leonardo Senatore, Tomas Leonardi, Martin Landajo, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, Dom Shipperley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (captain), Radike Samo, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatufu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson.
Reserves: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Mike Harris, Anthony Fainga’a.
SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.
Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo.