PREVIEW: All Blacks v Argentina first Test

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Match details: All Blacks v Argentina, 7.35pm, Saturday 8 September, Trafalgar Park, Nelson

Matches played: 26
All Blacks won: 25
Draw: 1
Last match: All Blacks 36, Argentina 10 (September 30, 2017)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 93-8 (1997)

The All Blacks have made a number of changes from the team that defeated Australia in the opening two Investec Rugby Championship Tests. The biggest changes come in the backs where there is a new inside half combination. TJ Perenara comes into the nine jersey while Richie Mo’unga lines up in the pivot role for his first Test start. Out wide, Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his first appearance for the All Blacks since October 2017. In the pack, local fans will be happy to see Tasman loose forward Shannon Frizell named to start at blindside flanker at Tim Perry on the bench.


It’s been 11 months since Nehe Milner-Skudder has pulled on the black jersey for the All Blacks. After an injury-broken two seasons, the hot-stepping wing is back at full fitness and raring to go against Argentina. “I had all the right people around me for my rehab. So it was just a matter of staying positive and that sort of paid off in a lot of ways," Milner-Skudder said. The Manawatu Turbos and Hurricanes flyer has played 11 Tests for the All Blacks and has scored 11 tries. 

Although the Pumas are yet to taste victory over the All Blacks, they have improved markedly since being introduced to the Rugby Championship in 2012. With three victories over South Africa and one over Australia since joining the Championship, the All Blacks are the only team left for the Pumas to conquer. Argentina were hugely impressive in thumping South Africa 32-19 in Mendoza last week and come to New Zealand with high hopes of making history says No.8 Javier Ortega Desio. "We have the talent and capacity to succeed and that's why confidence grows to try things when we do what we say we're going to do," Ortega-Desio said.

A sold-out crowd of 21,480 fans will pack Nelson’s Trafalgar Park on Saturday night for the All Blacks first Test match in the city. With the Nelson Test a sell-out, fans only have one more chance to see the All Blacks live in New Zealand in 2018 when they take on South Africa in Wellington on September 15. Limited tickets are still available to the All Blacks v South Africa Test at
The All Blacks have won each of their last seven games in New Zealand, including their last five by an average margin of 35 points per game

The Pumas will offer a vastly different challenge to that of Australia. While the All Blacks got on top of Australia’s set-piece, Argentina are not only renowned scrummagers but also boast one of the most effective lineout combinations in the world game. The last time Argentina played in New Zealand, they held a 15-16 halftime lead before being undone 39-22 by a fast finishing All Blacks side. The Pumas were also rocked by South Africa in the final quarter of their last game so will know that a full 80 minute performance is the only way of securing their first victory over the All Blacks.

All Blacks (with Test caps in brackets. * new cap):

1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (5) 2. Codie Taylor (34) 3. Owen Franks (100) 4. Brodie Retallick (70) 5. Scott Barrett (21) 6. Shannon Frizell (1) 7. Ardie Savea (27) 8. Kieran Read – captain (111) 9. TJ Perenara (47) 10. Richie Mo’unga (1) 11. Waisake Naholo (21) 12. Ngani Laumape (7) 13. Jack Goodhue (3) 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder (11) 15. Ben Smith (70)
Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris (15) 17. Tim Perry (1) 18. Ofa Tuungafasi (17) 19. Samuel Whitelock (101) 20. Luke Whitelock (5) 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi * 22. Damian McKenzie (17) 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (26)


1: Santiago Garcia Botta, 2: Agustin Creevy, 3: Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4: Guido Petti 5: Tomas Lavanini 6: Tomas Lezana 7: Marcos Kremer 8: Javier Ortega Desio 9: Martin Landajo 10: Nicolas Sanchez 11: Ramiro Moyano 12: Jeronimo De La Fuente 13: Matias Mornoi 14: Bautista Delguy 15: Emiliano Boffelli
Reserves: Julian Montoya, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Gaston Cortes, Pablo Matera, Tomas Cubelli, Bautista Ezcurra, Juan Cruz Mallia

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Andy Burt

Andy Burt is a Wellington-based writer for and co-host of the All Blacks Podcast. He covers all levels of the domestic game in New Zealand and monitors the international game closely.


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