New Zealand have made several changes to their side that will face Argentina in their Rugby Championship clash in New Plymouth on Saturday.

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

In the backs, TJ Perenara starts at scrum-half, 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.”

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
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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  1. Hopefully Arg will get Diego Maradonna to give pregame talk & provide halftime “refreshments” to Argentina players or this game will border on being unwatchable.

  2. Jeez even with Hansen making wholesale changes, that still looks like a strong team.

    Quick question, the AB’s don’t look as sharp as usual. Anyone else notice this? Think they might be there for the taking this year, with some luck of the bounce.

  3. @Aldo:

    Hehe… by ‘sharp’ what do you mean?

    100% unbeatable?

    As awesome as that last Bledisloe game was… I’m still awestruck about the dismantling before. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it since what they did to the Boks just a few tests before.

    The North have caught up… and the best they dished up was a last minute draw… which is a huge achievement.

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