Chiefs All Blacks not likely for home town Test

Getty Images

James Mortimer     04 Sep 2013     Getty Images

With Liam Messam confirmed as an absentee this weekend, the only way further Chiefs will start against Argentina is if there are changes to halfback and the loose forwards.

Aaron Smith has been in imperious form so far this season, and with the All Blacks selectors promising no let off, one would think it would be something of a shock selection if Tawera Kerr-Barlow were to start ahead of the incumbent.

With TJ Perenara rounding out the World Champion’s number nines in the squad, one suspects that the Chiefs and Hurricanes backs will be destined for a start, but not this early in the international calendar.

Smith is likely to be combined with a recovered Daniel Carter, but the injury cloud over Ma’a Nonu, which could lead to the selection of Francis Saili at second five-eighth, should point towards the selectors hallmark of stacking experience around new players.

This should see All Blacks captain Richie McCaw continue at openside, with his senior lieutenant Kieran Read beside him, while new blindside Steven Luatua will get another Test start - a strong and balanced back row that will be needed to see off a Pumas challenge that concentrated all of their firepower on the Springboks ruck in Mendoza.

Sam Cane, who featured for Bay of Plenty in the ITM Cup as one of ten All Blacks released to their provinces last week, is expected to be named on the bench in the continued absence of his Chiefs captain.

However, like Kerr-Barlow, the odds of Cane getting a feel good selection to play a starting Test in front of home support is minimal as the All Blacks look to make it three-from-three in the tournament.