Hamilton - All Black captain Richie McCaw said on Friday that New Zealand
would not let any foul play by Argentina put them off their Rugby Championship
Test at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.
The world champions will draw level with France as the most successful Test
playing nation to date if they win this weekend and McCaw insisted they would
not be affected by any underhand tactics.
Argentina have acquired a reputation as an uncompromising side with loose
forward Leonardo Senatore currently serving a nine-week ban for biting.
Last year, prop Juan Figallo was suspended for three weeks for head-butting.
Although the All Blacks have preferred to describe the South Americans as
"physical" rather than "dirty", McCaw said New Zealand
would stick to their game plan.
"You don't take a backward step, but we're here to play rugby and if we
do that properly, not worrying about the opposition doing those sort of things,
then you're probably on the front foot from the start," he said.
"The boys definitely won't step down. It's a physical game and you've
got to bar up and there's ways of imposing yourself physically. There's no
place in the game for any stuff like that."
An All Blacks win in the third-round Rugby Championship match would take
them to 382 victories from 504 matches. It took France 695 Tests to achieve 382
wins while third best England have 356 wins from 665 matches.
The odds are heavily in favour of the All Blacks who have never lost to
Argentina, and coach Steve Hansen said losing was not an option.
"In the All Blacks, whether you're a coach, a player or the baggage
man, you are expected to win every Test, whether you have never lost to them
before or whether you have had one or two or three losses," he said.
"Once you've embraced that it's actually quite a motivating factor. As
a group of people, we want to win every game we play and we want to play
The reigning world champions, who are also defending the Rugby Championship
crown, have assembled a battle-hardened side containing 663 caps with only
centre Francis Saili making his debut.
The world's leading Test scorer, Dan Carter, returns at flyhalf, after an
injury plagued year, and needs to score just one point to become the first
player to amass 1 400 Test points.
Argentina, who tightened up their defence after losing by 60 points to the
Springboks and reduced the deficit to just five a week later, have made four
Influential captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, who returns after missing
the opening two matches with a calf injury, said their aim is to push New
Zealand as hard as they can.
"There is no other way against the best other than push them to the
fullest and try to make them hesitate," he said.
"We have to take the initiative and know that in 80 minutes you can
always go either way. We must have confidence and always want more."
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 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
15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Julio Farias Cabello, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Substitutes: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Benjamin Macome, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Felipe Contepomi, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino