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Damian McKenzie earns start as All Blacks name team for Pumas clash

By Finn Morton
Damian McKenzie of the All Blacks runs through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Playmaker Damian McKenzie will have first crack at the All Blacks’ No. 10 jersey when the New Zealanders take on Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener on Sunday morning (NZST).

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McKenzie was seen training at first-five towards the end of the All Blacks’ first on-field training session in Mendoza earlier this week, while Beauden Barrett lined up at fullback.

But as announced in the early hours of Friday in New Zealand, McKenzie has officially been named to start at flyhalf for the 21st time in Test rugby.

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As for two-time World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett, the talented utility back will provide another playmaking option against Los Pumas.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has also selected one debutant in the matchday squad, with Chiefs winger Emoni Narawa set to enter the fray of Test rugby on the right wing.

Test match regulars Ethan de Groot, Dane Coles and Tyrel Lomax make up a formidable starting front row, while Scott Barrett will partner two-Test All Black Josh Lord in a new-look second row.

Lord was seen running patterns alongside the likes of McKenzie and Barrett earlier this week at Marista Rugby Club, and veteran Brodie Retallick described his Chiefs teammate as a “great player.”

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Highlanders utility Shannon Frizell will start in the No. 6 jumper, and partner captain Sam Cane and Ardie Savea in the back row.

Aaron Smith has beaten Finlay Christie and Cam Roigard to the starting side this week, with the legendary halfback set to link up with McKenzie in the halves.

McKenzie will look to provide quality ball to an exciting backline which includes the midfield duo of Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane.

Joining Emoni Narawa in the outside backs is left winger Caleb Clarke and fullback Barrett.

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The All Blacks certainly pack a punch on the bench as well, with the likes of Dalton Papali’i and Richie Mo’unga looking to make an impact late in the contest.

The match between the All Blacks and Los Pumas in Mendoza is set to get underway at 7.10 am NZST on Sunday morning,

All Blacks team to take on Argentina

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Dane Coles
  3. Tyrel Lomax
  4. Scott Barrett
  5. Josh Lord
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Sam Cane (c)
  8. Ardie Savea
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Damian McKenzie
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Jordie Barrett
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Emoni Narawa
  15. Beauden Barrett

Replacements:

  1. Codie Taylor
  2. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Tupou Vaa’i
  5. Dalton Papali’i
  6. Finlay Christie
  7. Richie Mo’unga
  8. Braydon Ennor
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Comments

11 Comments
G
G 375 days ago

and the bench? will Ennor play wing? I know he is probably planning to move Rieko but why not Stevenson even on the bench?

G
G 375 days ago

Clarke and BB..why?
When Stevenson moves to the NRL or Europe (and maybe play for another nation like Lowe and others), we should not be surprised.
He is, today, miles away better than BB at fullback plus can kick long (very useful in the Mendoza rain)

G
Greg 375 days ago

Fossie calls out Shooter for his defensive frailties, then picks gun-shy Beauden, the man who made zero tackles in a super match? Fossie may not be a great coach, but he's a worse selector. De Groot, Lomax and Jordie B wouldn't be there but for injuries forcing Fossie's hand. Papali'i wouldn't have been the revelation he was up north last year, had Cane not been injured. Cane needs a rest after that super final, Papali'i needs game time, yet here we are with Cane starting. Great to see Josh Lord in there, but no such luck for Roigard, who is going to be crucial if the ABs are to win the RWC.

A
Andrew 375 days ago

Well thats probably it for Shooter. Not even in the reserves. NRL for him next year. How sad.

V
Vivienne 375 days ago

Exactly the team I would expect the Imposter to select.

j
jarred 375 days ago

Looks like a rest rotation selection, with only 4 players starting having played the final two weeks ago. Not sure if Shephenson is going to get a look unless there is an injury for the rest of the Chapioship....This week was about EN vs SS on who would make the squad... and EN are already in the running where SS was brought in as cover. Foster doesn't like to blood new players often...how much game time did Stephen Perofeta see...

P
Poe 375 days ago

Bit frustrating for me. Ok maybe Barrit but why not Stephenson on the left? Or at FB? Keeps the chiefs connections going., Especially if giving D mac a start. I suppose I like the idea of giving new players a go when they are on form. Can't see the reason for waiting

D
DarstedlyDan 375 days ago

Hmm. A much more conservative selection than I had hoped for. Very unsure why Ofa and Nepo are on the bench, when Tamaiti Williams has consistently outplayed both on both sides of the scrum. Rest/squad rotation? Or is it Foster sticking with what he knows? Unsurprised to see BB at 15, but think it’s the wrong pick. He will get in he way of DMac, just like he has with Mo’unga previously. Our back 3 kicking will be poor. Expect this to be ruthlessly targeted by the Pumas. Team a bit of a muddle. Do they have to get spanked again to force Foster to change horses?

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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