Lock Brodie Retallick to lead All Blacks against Argentina

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Veteran lock Brodie Retallick will captain the All Blacks for the first time when they meet Argentina on Sunday in a Rugby Championship match on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Retallick takes over from Ardie Savea, who led New Zealand for the first time to last weekend’s 38-21 win over Australia in Perth but is unavailable because of a head injury. Savea in turn took over from Sam Whitelock, who didn’t travel to Australia with the All Blacks squad because his wife was expecting a baby.

Whitelock was standing in as captain for Sam Cane who is unavailable for the Rugby Championship with a pectoral muscle injury.

Retallick, who becomes the 71st All Blacks captain in his 87th test, will lead a much-changed team from the one which beat Australia.

“Brodie is a great leader in this team and we don’t take his leadership for granted,” head coach Ian Foster said. “We think this is a great honor for him and he and his family can be hugely proud."

The team named Friday features three backline changes from the one which beat the Wallabies to clinch a 3-0 win in the Bledisloe Cup series. The Crusaders' pairing of Sevu Reece and George Bridge will start on the wings in place of Will Jordan and Rieko Ioane and T.J. Perenara is named at scrumhalf, replacing Brad Weber.

Jordie Barrett, who was sent off in the 27th minute of last weekend’s test, returns at fullback after being exonerated of dangerous or reckless play.

There are also three changes among the forwards. Luke Jacobson takes Savea’s place at No.8 while Asafo Aumua will start a test for the first time at hooker in place of Codie Taylor, who also sustained a head injury last weekend. Karl Tu’inukuafe will take over at loosehead prop from George Bower.

Prop Joe Moody is named on the bench for his first test of the season after recovering from foot surgery.

The All Blacks team will leave Perth on Friday and will be based on the Gold Coast for the remainder of the Rugby Championship. Sunday’s test against Argentina precedes a more eagerly-anticipated meeting with world champion South Africa next weekend — a clash between the world’s two top-ranked sides.

The All Blacks still will not be taking Argentina lightly after suffering a first-ever test loss to the Pumas in Sydney last year.

“We’ve had a great build-up in Perth and we’re looking forward to getting to Queensland to finish our preparation,” Foster said. “The key to selection this week has been about managing the player workload across the whole squad which I think all teams will be doing in the championship.

“We want to ensure we have a fresh, excited squad ready to play a physical and passionate Argentinian team. They’ve had a tough time on the road with matches in Europe and South Africa before coming to Australia. But we know from last year that when they spend a lot of time together it really unifies them, so we’re expecting a torrid game.”

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New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, T.J. Perenara; Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick (captain), Nepo Laulala, Asafo Aumua, Karl Tu’inukuafe. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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