All Blacks recall Fifita for Argentina in Rugby Championship

By AP 29 September 2017, 12:00AM

Flanker Vaea Fifita, who sparked New Zealand's home win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship, has been recalled to the starting lineup for Saturday's return match in Buenos Aires.

New Zealand was trailing Argentina after 54 minutes at New Plymouth this month until Fifita scored a brilliant solo try which helped spur a 39-22 All Blacks win.

Fifita will play in a new-look back row, anchored by skipper Kieran Read, in which opensider Matt Todd will play his first test of the season.

Scott Barrett and Luke Romano were named in an all-new second row on Thursday and winger Waisake Naholo will play only his second test of the season after sustaining a concussion in the second test against the British and Irish Lions.

Crusaders utility David Havili, who can cover fullback, winger and midfield, is likely to make his test debut off the bench.

Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf after initially being left out of the All Blacks' squad for the match. The New Zealand selectors intended to rest six front-line players - Barrett, center Ryan Crotty, locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick and flankers Sam Cane and Liam Squire - because of their high workload.

Barrett was recalled when Lima Sopoaga was forced to drop out of the squad because of the impending birth of his first child.

Barrett will play beside inside center Sonny Bill Williams, who continues to be picked despite poor form.

The team named is a weak one and has led to accusations of disrespect towards Argentine rugby. The Pumas have yet to beat the All Blacks in 29 tests but frightened them in their most-recent meeting. It was thought a stronger lineup would be selected to face a team which is always tough on its home ground.

New Zealand is relying on a sound preparation to help it overcome Argentina's challenge.

"We are under no illusion about what we'll be facing this weekend," coach Steve Hansen said. "After having a torrid tussle against us in New Plymouth, Argentina will be even more determined on their home pitch and in front of their passionate fans."

Back-rower Juan Manuel Leguizamon has been recalled among four changes to the Pumas for the match at Velez Sarsfield Stadium. Leguizamon missed Argentina's most-recent matches in New Zealand and Australia and will play his 80th test, becoming the fifth most-capped player in Pumas history.

Tomas Lavanini returns at lock, replacing Matias Alemanno, after being left out of the squad for the New Zealand and Australian matches for disciplinary reasons.

Tomas Cubelli is at scrumhalf in place of Martin Landajo, and Joaquin Tuculet returns at fullback, replacing the injured Ramiro Moyano.

"Facing the best team in the world motivates you in a very special way," coach Daniel Hourcade said. "We have to be attentive to everything because if you make the smallest mistake they take advantage and score points."



Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy (captain), Lucas Noguera. Reserves: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Ramiro Herrera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio, Martin Landajo, Juan Martin Hernandez, Santiago Cordero.

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Kane Hames. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, T.J. Perenara, Ngani Laumape, David Havili.

By AP 29 September 2017, 12:00AM

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