Richie Mo’unga is among seven changes to the New Zealand team for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.
The All Blacks have won their first two matches – both against Bledisloe Cup rivals Australia – and coach Steve Hansen has taken the opportunity to hand starts to a number of fringe men.
Mo’unga comes in for Beauden Barrett, who he had been tipped to replace prior to the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year’s scintilating four-try show against the Wallabies.
Sam Whitelock is another notable absentee, although he appears among the replacements, with Joe Moody injured and Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Aaron Smith and Jordie Barrett also sitting out.
Captain Kieran Read remains in the side, as Nehe Milner-Skudder makes his first Test appearance of 2018.
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is set to make his New Zealand debut from the bench.
TEAM NAMING | Here is your #AllBlacks 23 to take on Argentina in an Investec Rugby Championship clash in Nelson this weekend.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 5, 2018
However, Hansen insists the changes to the side do not suggest a disrespect towards Argentina, believing the All Blacks must grow the squad and pace themselves across the season.
“While we’ve made a number of changes from our last outing, this is not a reflection on Argentina but rather a desire by us to grow the experience and depth of our squad,” he said.
“Secondary to that, we also know that if we don’t use the whole squad across a long season, we’ll run out of steam later in the year.
“In making these changes, it also needs to be said that the high expectation we place on ourselves remains the same, regardless of who we’ve selected. The All Blacks jersey demands this.”
New Zealand XV to face Argentina: Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Waisake Naholo, Richie Mo’unga, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu’inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read (captain).
Replacements: Nathan Harris, Tim Perry, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown.
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