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Cheika makes changes for Pumas Christchurch test

By AAP
Photo by ANDRES LARROVERE/AFP via Getty Images

Argentina coach Michael Cheika has made three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks.

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Two of the changes from the team that thrashed Australia 48-17 in their last outing, and an overhaul of the bench were forced by Cheika’s decision to leave front-rowers Francisco Gomez Kodela, Agustin Creevy and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro as well as winger Juan Imhoff out of the squad for the New Zealand trip.

Although Argentina lead the Rugby Championship standings after the first two rounds, Cheika knows he must manage the game time of his more experienced players with half an eye on next year’s World Cup.

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Joel Sclavi moves up from the bench to replace Gomez Kodela at tighthead prop and Lucio Cinti, nominally a centre, will start on the left wing in place of Imhoff, bringing a bit more bulk to the Pumas backline in Christchurch.

The third change was an enforced tweak to the midfield, Matias Orlando coming in at inside centre to partner Matias Moroni in place of Jeronimo de la Fuente, who pulled a hamstring in the act of scoring a try against the Wallabies.

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Fresh off a convincing Rugby Championship win over the Wallabies, Argentina hope a number of changes will help them record a first Test triumph in New Zealand.

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Cheika was an advisor to the team when the Pumas earned their first win over New Zealand in Sydney two years ago and said he would like nothing better than to lead Argentina to their maiden victory over the All Blacks in their own backyard.

Having been on the losing side more often than not against the Kiwis when he was Australia coach, including in the 2015 World Cup final, Cheika knows that will be easier said than done.

“Realistically everyone is expecting them to dust us in the two games at home,” he told New Zealand’s Sky TV.

“The only people who have got to think the opposite is us and we’ve got try and win small battles along the way. We’ve got to try and work out how can we put them under pressure and make them have to deal with the challenge from us.”

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Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Joel Sclavi, Julian Montoya (capt), Thomas Gallo. Reserves: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Eduardo Bello, Guido Petti, Santiago Grondona, Tomas Cubeli, Tomas Albornoz, Santiago Cordero.

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