Crusaders utility back David Havili is set to make his Test debut after he was named on the All Blacks bench for Saturday’s clash with Argentina in Buenos Aires.
As well as Havili, the matchday 23 for Saturday also features a number of other changes in the backs. Anton Lienert-Brown has been named in the 13 jersey, Waisake Naholo is on the right wing for his first match in the Rugby Championship, while Ngani Laumape will provide extra back cover.
In the forwards, Luke Romano and Scott Barrett have been named as the starting locks, with Patrick Tuipulotu named in the reserves, set for his first appearance for the All Blacks in 2017. Vaea Fifita is at blindside flanker and Matt Todd at openside in his fourth Test start.
“We’ve selected what we believe is a quality team and have high expectations that they’ll go out and put in a strong performance this weekend,” said All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen.
“The team has had a great week here in Buenos Aires. As always, our training throughout the week has been of paramount importance. Whilst this is a team requirement, it is also an individual necessity. Our training and preparation has to be bone deep, and when this is achieved, we always give ourselves the opportunity to play well on Saturday.
“In saying that, we are under no illusion about what we’ll be facing this weekend. After having a torrid tussle against us in New Plymouth, Argentina will be even more determined on their home pitch and in front of their passionate fans. Our job will be to start well and to put in a performance for the full 80 minutes.”
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 David Havili