AllBlacks prepare to assemble for Pumas

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James Mortimer     02 Sep 2012     Getty Images

The All Blacks last played the Pumas in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, and the South Americans gave the hosts a big battle, with only seven Piri Weepu penalty goals and a try to Kieran Read in the last ten minutes giving the eventual World Champions a 33-10 win.

It was a scoreline that most felt flattered the All Blacks.

With ten players released to their ITM Cup sides, pending final injury reports from those involved with their provinces, it will be a fully fit squad that assembles in the capital later this weekend.

Luke Romano was cleared yesterday for action, recovering from his shoulder injury suffered against the Wallabies at Eden Park.

Conrad Smith and Tony Woodcock, who didn't play against the Wallabies in the round two match, will be available for selection.

All three could slot straight back into the starting XV to play Argentina at Westpac Stadium next week.

Romano will join Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick to ensure that the only three locks in the All Blacks squad are fit - and Romano's inclusion is critical as coach Steve Hansen said he is the physical presence in the engine room required to fill the massive void left by Brad Thorn.

Whitelock and Retallick are the "skinny" locks of the All Blacks, according to Hansen, and they will come up against grizzled Latin locks that caused New Zealand issues in the lineout last year.

Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza started against the Springboks in Mendoza a fortnight ago, and were impressive against the formidable South African combination of Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth.