Rugby Championship

Mo'unga to start as Barrett rested by All Blacks

2018-09-05 20:50
Richie Mo'unga
Richie Mo'unga (Getty Images)

Auckland - Richie Mo'unga will make his first Test start and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is set to make his debut off the bench, with the All Blacks making wholesale changes for Saturday's clash with Argentina in Nelson.

More than half the starting line-up has been changed, including Ben Smith returning to fullback to make way for Nehe Milner-Skudder on his return to Test rugby a year after being injured playing South Africa in Cape Town.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen denied the changes were a reflection on Argentina but were a "desire by us to grow the experience and depth" of the squad.

"Secondary to that, we also know that if we don't use the whole squad across a long season, we'll run out of steam later in the year."

Mo'unga, a confident flyhalf who has been compared to a young Dan Carter, was the standout pivot in Super Rugby this season, guiding the Crusaders to their eighth title.

But, in a country that enjoys a wealth of depth in the 10 jersey, his path to the starting XV has been blocked by World player of the year Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie.

Barrett, who produced a standout four-try performance against Australia two weeks ago, has been rested this week while the elusive McKenzie retains his role as a specialist sub.

Scrumhalf Aaron Smith has also been given the week off, with TJ Perenara promoted to the run-on side with Tahuriorangi on the bench for the first Test to be played in Nelson which is the birthplace of rugby in New Zealand.

Tahuriorangi has been in the All Blacks squad since the start of June's Test series against France without getting on the field.

After five Tests off the bench, Karl Tu'inukuafe gets his first start at loosehead prop for the injured Joe Moody, and Tim Perry comes into the prop reserves.

In the second row, Scott Barrett will partner Brodie Retallick with Sam Whitelock in the reserves, while Shannon Frizell will make his second Test start at blindside flanker with Ardie Savea at seven and Luke Whitelock on the bench with his brother.

New Zealand are unbeaten after two rounds of the Rugby Championship while Argentina and South Africa have a win each and Australia have lost both their matches.

Despite the All Blacks' shake-up, Hansen is keen to see them maintain their winning streak.

"In making these changes, it also needs to be said that the high expectation we place on ourselves remains the same, regardless of who we've selected. The All Blacks jersey demands this," he said.

"We're very aware of the Argentinian challenge. We know that they're hungry for Test success against the All Blacks and after their recent win over South Africa, they'll be coming here confident that they can achieve their desired goal."

New Zealand and Argentina have played each other 26 times, with the All Blacks winning 25 times and one match drawn 21-all in Buenos Aires in 1985.


New Zealand

15 Ben Smith; 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Waisake Naholo; 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 TJ Perenara; 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Shannon Frizell; 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick; 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe.

Subtitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.




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