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Preview: All Blacks v Argentina

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Sportal.co.nz     05 Sep 2013     Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 16, New Zealand 15, Argentina 0, Drawn 1

LAST TIME: Argentina 15 lost to New Zealand 54, Estadio Ciudad de la Plata, Sept. 29 2012

WALKING WOUNDED: Second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu has an on-going ankle niggle that is being rested this week while prop Owen Franks' injury has allowed Charlie Faumuina to put his calf problems behind him to start on the tighthead side of the scrum.
Argentina have welcomed back their captain and loose forward Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, lock Manuel Carizza and fullback Juan Martin Hernandez.

FORM:
Argentina made a poor start to the Rugby Championship being thrashed 13-73 by South Africa before turning that around and only being beaten in the return match in the last few minutes. New Zealand opened with a thumping victory over Australia before being forced to battle much harder to take out the return contest in Wellington.

WE THINK: The All Blacks are going to face a tough contest up front, that is always the case against Argentina. The scrum has long been a point in Argentina's favour and their approach in this department will be interesting. However, the All Blacks will look to minimise the effect of the visiting pack by moving the ball wide to take advantage of less experience in the Pumas backline, especially in the absence of Felipe Contepomi, who is on the bench. Obvious interest will centre on debut back Francis Saili and the return of Dan Carter after injury. If this pair play anything like their best then some merry capers may well result. Australia shut down some of the All Blacks' backline activities in their last outing and that will have them looking to restore some impact. The loose forward battle will again be another point of conflict and blindside flanker Steven Luatua can expect a busy time of it. Some interesting milestones are set to be passed by the All Blacks in Test. Dan Carter is sitting on 1399 points in Test matches, so is set to become the first player to post 1400 Test points. Carter is also closing in on Jonny Wilkinson's world record of 255 penalty goals in Tests. Carter is on 248. Captain Richie McCaw will play his 48 Rugby Championship/Tri-Nations Test which will equal George Gregan as the most caps in the series. And the All Blacks are one short of equalling France's record of 382 Test victories. New Zealand by 15.

TEAMS:

New Zealand:1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Andrew Hore, 3.Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, 5.Samuel Whitelock, 6.Steven Luatua, 7.Richie McCaw (captain), 8.Kieran Read, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Daniel Carter, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Francis Saili, 13.Conrad Smith, 14.Ben Smith, 15.Israel Dagg.

Reserves: 16.Dane Coles, 17.Wyatt Crockett, 18.Ben Franks, 19.Jeremy Thrush, 20.Sam Cane, 21.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22.Beauden Barrett, 23.Charles Piutau.

Argentina:1.Marcot Ayerza, 2.Eusebio Guinazu, 3.Juan Figallo, 4.Manuel Carizza, 5.Julio Farias Cabello, 6.Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7.Pablo Matera, 8.Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 9.Martin Landajo, 10. Nicholas Sanchez, 11.Horacio Agulla, 12.Santiago Fernandez, 13.Marcelo Bosch, 14.Gonzalo Camacho, 15.Juan Martin Hernandez.

Reserves: 16.Augustin Creevy, 17.Nahuel Lobo, 18.Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19.Mariano Galarza, 20.Benjamin Macome, 21.Tomas Cubelli, 22.Felipe Contepomi, 23.Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)