New Zealand All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and his selectors have included uncapped Sevu Reece in the team to play Argentina’s Pumas as Jose Amalfitani Stadium (Estadio Velez Sarsfield) in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Along with Reece in the starting line up on the right-wing, Hansen has also named uncapped Atu Moli and new All Blacks Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor on the bench.
Balancing that is the experience of lock Brodie Retallick, Captain Sam Cane at openside flanker, the inside pairing of Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith at fullback.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team has had a good week’s preparation after traveling from New Zealand last weekend.
“As always, with the first game of the season, we’ve worked hard on building our relationships, re-establishing our connections and combinations and getting clarity in our roles. We’ll continue to nail the details further in training throughout the week so that we are bright, clear and excited to play with real intensity come Saturday,” Hansen said.
“It’s going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform along with their more experienced teammates. The team is a mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm, which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing come together and play.”
Hansen further added: “We have the utmost respect for Argentina. We know that we’ll be facing a confident, physical side. Their players will have taken a lot of confidence and self-belief from the Jaguares Super Rugby season, and with the inclusion of their overseas players, there will be added excitement to their group. They will see this game as a massive opportunity to make a statement and it will be our job to make a statement of our own.”
Ben Smith, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt), Vaea Fifita, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi.
Replacements: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane, Braydon Ennor.