All Blacks' big names staying home

The Rugby Championship
AAP
by AAP

The All Blacks are resting six key players from the squad to face Argentina in their next Rugby Championship Test.

First five-eighth Beauden Barrett won't travel to Buenos Aires for the September 30 Test, along with centre Ryan Crotty, locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick and loose forwards Liam Squire and Sam Cane.

They will join the squad in Cape Town for the final Rugby Championship Test in Cape Town a week later.

Four players recalled to the 28-man squad leaving on Friday; flankers Matt Todd and Jerome Kaino, lock Patrick Tuipulotu and prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen.

A group of players will return home from Buenos Aires, to be determined after the Test.

Ryan Crotty was the chief destroyer for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesCoach Steve Hansen says it is an important time of year to keep players fresh, with the world champions keen to retain their standards through to late November at the end of another travel-heavy programme.

"This is the hardest time of the year for us, so we are just trying to think outside the box and think of ways to keep the players fresh," he said.

"This also gives us a chance to build player depth and experience.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us going to Argentina because they are a good side and we'll need to play well to perform there, but we're confident that the group we are taking there will be able to do the job."

Also missing from the 28-strong group is experienced outside back Israel Dagg, who played in the 39-22 defeat of Argentina a week ago but missed Saturday's record 57-0 massacre of the Springboks in Auckland.

Dagg has a knee injury which may need surgery, potentially ruling him out for the season.

Already missing for the rest of the 2017 with injury are original Rugby Championship squad members Jordie Barrett, Owen Franks and Joe Moody, while Ben Smith has taken up a sabbatical.

Jerome Kaino has returned home to New Zealand. Photo: Getty imagesBarrett's absence means Lima Sopoaga will probably start at first five-eighth against the Pumas, with his only logical backup being Damian McKenzie, the starting fullback in the last two Tests.

Veteran blindside Kaino returns after taking time away to deal with personal matters while Todd is back from a wrist injury and will challenge Ardie Savea for the starting openside berth.

There is pressure on Tuipulotu, whose form dipped this year in Super Rugby, resulting in his omission from earlier squads.

The Test may be a chance to hand a debut to either Hurricanes prop Toomaga-Allen or Crusaders utility back David Havili.

SQUAD

Backs

Damian McKenzie

David Havili

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Waisake Naholo

Rieko Ioane

Anton Lienert-Brown

Sonny Bill Williams

Ngani Laumape

Lima Sopoaga

Aaron Smith

TJ Perenara

Tawera Kerr-Barlow

Forwards

Kieran Read (capt)

Ardie Savea

Matt Todd

Jerome Kaino

Vaea Fifita

Scott Barrett

Luke Romano

Patrick Tuipulotu

Wyatt Crockett

Kane Hames

Nepo Laulala

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen

Ofa Tu'ungafasi

Dane Coles

Codie Taylor

Nathan Harris.

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