Rugby Championship

Crotty returns for All Blacks

2016-09-07 21:06
Ryan Crotty (Getty Images)

Wellington - New Zealand are backing their explosive approach for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Hamilton with only one change to the starting line up.

After swamping Australia with 10 tries in the first two Tests, coach Steve Hansen said now was not the time to change as he named his side to play the Pumas.

The only run-on change sees Ryan Crotty return from injury to resume his place at inside centre with Anton Lienert Brown dropping to the bench.

In further tweaking of the replacements, Codie Taylor, concussed three minutes into the first Test against Australia, is back as the replacement hooker and Luke Romano joins the squad as lock cover.

"In selecting this team, we felt there was the need for consistency," Hansen said.

"We know we'll be facing a completely different challenge this week. Argentina will bring their traditional physicality up front and flair in the backs and we will have to be ready for whatever they throw at us."

Argentina underlined their emergence in the southern hemisphere championship with a 26-24 win over South Africa in their last outing and this impacted on the All Blacks preparations.

"We have worked hard during the early part of the week on getting reconnected as a group, getting the understanding of our roles cemented, and getting our mental attitude right," Hansen said.

"We'll need to be right on top of our game, both mentally and physically, and play the game with real accuracy, if we are to prevail on Saturday."

Hansen has seen a need to bolster his specialist locking cover where Romano replaces loose forward Liam Squire on the bench.

However, the backs contingent remains settled with a fit again Crotty always expected to resume his midfield partnership with Malakai Fekitoa.

Israel Dagg, who scored two tries when placed on the right wing against Australia in the second round, stays with the 14 jersey while Ben Smith at fullback and left wing Julian Savea round out the back three.

With two wins from two games, New Zealand are the only unbeaten side in the championship.

Argentina and South Africa both have a win and a loss while Australia are yet to get on the board.

New Zealand 

15 Ben Smith; 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea; 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (capt), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino; 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick; 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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Fixtures
01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
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