The All Blacks have made wholesale changes to their team to play Argentina on Saturday as Ardie Savea returns to captain a side with a decidely second string feel.
Savea will start at openside flanker after sitting out last weekend’s thumping 39-0 win over Los Pumas following a head knock.
He takes the leadership reins from Brodie Retallick who is one of several key players rested with an eye towards back-to-back Tests against world champions South Africa.
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Pumped up Perenara leads haka
Savea is joined by Hoskins Sotutu and Ethan Blackadder in a brand new back row while Tupou Vaa’i, Tyrel Lomax and Samisoni Taukei’aho also earn starts in a fresh faced forward pack.
Damian McKenzie will run the cutter at five-eighth in place of Beauden Barrett while his Chiefs teammate Quinn Tupaea gets a big opportunity at inside centre.
The new look team opens the door for Argentina to give the All Blacks a scare and no doubt coaches Mario Ledesma and Michael Cheika will look to use the selections as motivation.
“With five Tests in a row and a six day turnaround between these two Argentinian Tests, we were always going to make some selection changes,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster said.
“Five Tests in a row demanded that.
“But the good thing is that we have a group that has been focusing on the same opposition for the last two weeks, so our preparation time hasn’t been compromised.
“We are expecting a huge response from Argentina and we have to make sure we are prepared for that because we know what a wounded beast is like.
“The key is not so much how they respond, but how we respond.
“If we go into this Test match thinking it’s just going to happen for us like last week without earning the right to have the scoreboard in our favour, then we are in trouble.”
ALL BLACKS (15-1): Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Damian McKenzie, TJ Perenara, Hoskins Sotutu, Ardie Savea (c), Ethan Blackadder, Tupou Vaa’i, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tyrel Lomax, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Joe Moody
Reserves: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Braydon Ennor