The match day squad sees a blend of experience and youth with five uncapped All Blacks named: winger Sevu Reece will make his test debut on the right wing, while the uncapped Atu Moli and new All Blacks Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor are all named on the bench.
Also of interest is the selection of Jordie Barrett on the left wing. The 22-year-old has only ever played on the wing once for the All Blacks during their 66-3 demolition of Italy in Rome last November, but that was in the No 14 jersey, which will be occupied by Reece.
Brad Weber also makes his long-awaited return to the national side, four years after his 17-minute debut against Samoa in Apia, while Ardie Savea slots into No 8 in the absence of rested skipper Kieran Read.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said the team has had a good week’s preparation after travelling from New Zealand last weekend.
“As always, with the first game of the season, we’ve worked hard on building our relationships, re-establishing our connections and combinations and getting clarity in our roles. We’ll continue to nail the details further in training throughout the week so that we are bright, clear and excited to play with real intensity come Saturday,” Hansen said.
“It’s going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform along with their more experienced teammates. The team is a mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm, which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing come together and play.”
Hansen further added: “We have the utmost respect for Argentina. We know that we’ll be facing a confident, physical side. Their players will have taken a lot of confidence and self-belief from the Jaguares Super Rugby season, and with the inclusion of their overseas players, there will be added excitement to their group. They will see this game as a massive opportunity to make a statement and it will be our job to make a statement of our own.”
All Blacks side to face Argentina:
1. Ofa Tuungafasi (26)
2. Dane Coles (60)
3. Angus Ta’avao (3)
4. Brodie Retallick (75)
5. Patrick Tuipulotu (21)
6. Vaea Fifita (9)
7. Sam Cane – captain (58)
8. Ardie Savea (35)
9. Aaron Smith (82)
10. Beauden Barrett (73)
11. Jordie Barrett (9)
12. Ngani Laumape (10)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (33)
14. Sevu Reece *
15. Ben Smith (72)
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