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All Blacks ring the changes for Argentina

Nehe Milner-Skudder makes his first All Black start since 2015

Nehe Milner-Skudder makes his first All Black start since 2015

New Zealand Rugby head coach Steve Hansen has named a team to play Argentina’s Pumas at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, on Saturday in the Rugby Championship.

In the forwards, Vaea Fifita gets his first start in his second Test, named at blindside flanker, while lock Luke Romano makes his first start of the year.

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Ardie Savea starts at openside flanker with Sam Cane moving to the bench. Prop Wyatt Crockett also returns to the matchday 23 on the bench.

In the backs, TJ Perenara starts at halfback, while Tawera Kerr-Barlow makes his first appearance of 2017 on the bench. Anton Lienert-Brown has been named at 13.

Nehe Milner-Skudder makes a welcome return to the All Blacks on the left wing, marking his first appearance since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Israel Dagg is on the right wing. Ngani Laumape is back cover on the bench in the 23 jersey.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This Test match is all about us taking opportunities. It’s an opportunity for our players to grow individually and collectively as a team, not only in our preparation throughout the week, but in our performance on Saturday.

“We’ve taken some key learnings from our first two Tests against Australia and now it’s an opportunity to take those learnings into a Test match against an old foe who we know pretty well now. Argentina are a dynamic, physical team who are growing their style of game. They are a proud people as well, so they’ll be desperate (after their losses against South Africa) so we’ll have to be ready for that challenge.

“We’ve had a great build up here in New Plymouth, it’s a real rugby city and the people have made us feel really welcome, so we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”

All Black first-five Beauden Barrett scored two tries and kicked five conversions against Australia and now sits on 99 points in Test matches this year and 396 points in all his Test matches. He is poised to become the fourth All Black to score more than 400 Test points (behind Carter, Mehrtens and Fox).

Kieran Read made his 95th start for the All Blacks in Dunedin equalling Mils Muliaina as the fourth most ever by an All Black (behind McCaw, Carter and Woodcock).

This will be the fourth All Blacks Test played at Yarrow Stadium. The All Blacks last played there in June 2013, defeating France 24-9.

The All Blacks have played Argentina 24 times with 23 wins to the All Blacks and one draw.

The All Blacks won The Rugby Championship in 2012 – 2014 and again in 2016, have held The Bledisloe Cup (played between New Zealand and Australia) since 2003 and The Freedom Cup (played between New Zealand and South Africa) since 2010.

New Zealand

1. Joe Moody, 2. Dane Coles , 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Luke Romano , 5. Brodie Retallick , 6. Vaea Fifita , 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Kieran Read (c) , 9. TJ Perenara , 10. Beauden Barrett , 11. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 12. Sonny Bill Williams , 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Israel Dagg (65) 15. Damian McKenzie.

Replacements : 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Wyatt Crockett , 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi , 19. Scott Barrett , 20. Sam Cane , 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Lima Sopoaga ,23. Ngani Laumape.

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