Sunday 24 September 2017

All Black pair to equal Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll's partnership record

New Zealand's Conrad Smith
New Zealand's Conrad Smith

Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith will play their 50th test together as a midfield combination, equalling the record partnership held by Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy when they face Argentina in La Plata on Saturday.

New Zealand have recalled hooker Andrew Hore for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash after resting the 35-year-old veteran for the home victory over South Africa.

Hore, capped 79 times for New Zealand, comes back into the side at the expense of up-and-coming rake Dane Coles.

"We are very happy with where Dane is at and with his performances of late," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in a news release on Thursday.

"But like a lot of the young players, we are also mindful of managing their game time as part of their development so have brought in Andrew to start this week."

Aaron Cruden replaces injured flyhalf Dan Carter in the only other change to the starting side that beat the Springboks 29-15 at Eden Park earlier this month.

New Zealand, who will be captained by number eight Kieran Read again in the absence of injured flanker Richie McCaw, are undefeated in the southern hemisphere tournament, and top the  standings by four points from South Africa with two rounds left to play.

A slip-up against the Pumas, mired at the bottom of the table, could prove costly to the defending champions, however, given they clash with the Springboks in the final round at Ellis Park.

"This game has huge significance with regard to us having any chance of winning the... Rugby Championship," Hansen said.

"Playing Argentina at home is never an easy assignment so we have worked hard on, firstly, our recovery on arrival and, secondly, our preparation throughout the week.

"We know that we will have to be physically on top of our game and strategically smart."

Two-test forward Jeremy Thrush comes into the match-day 23 to provide extra locking cover for Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, displacing flanker Matt Todd, who has a chest injury, on the bench.

Argentina are bidding to win their first match in the tournament but face an uphill battle against the world champions, who they have never beaten in 17 meetings.

Team: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock

Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Jeremy Thrush, 20-Steven Luatua, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Charles Piutau

Reuters

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