Old firm set to be reunited in midfield

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James Mortimer     05 Sep 2012     Getty Images

His return comes at an ideal time, with Sonny Bill Williams now entrenched in Japan with his new club, and attack coach Ian Foster, not for the first time this season, welcomed back the return of a player he felt was the best in New Zealand during Investec Super Rugby.

"It's great to have him back," Foster said.

"He's a quality player. As I've said earlier I think he was the best player in the country during Super Rugby."

While there has been speculation that Ben Smith could continue what looks like a potential shift to the centres, while Tamati Ellison is in the squad, Foster essentially said that the two senior All Blacks would be re-united.

"He (Conrad) brings lots of leadership, he brings a lot of experience to the decision making part of the game, particularly in the backs. He'll be good for that and particularly I think him and Ma'a getting back together after a while could be interesting."

Smith missed the first two test of The Investec Rugby Championship after having his retina operated on, suffering the injury in the Hurricanes final match of the Super Rugby season when they shocked the eventual champions.

Foster and head coach Steve Hansen have said they have no concerns regarding Smith’s fitness, despite the fact that he was not released to play for Wellington over the weekend.

While the All Blacks backline on paper looks beyond Argentinas according to some quarters, Foster cautioned against expecting a cricket score, recalling the match last year where it took a late Kieran Read effort to finally put distance between the Pumas at the Rugby World Cup in the quarter-finals.

"They will certainly challenge us,” Foster said.

“Defensively they have been a hard nut to break. If you look back at the World Cup last year and their games this year they have been a very strong defensive team.”