All Blacks unleash Milner-Skudder against Pumas

The Rugby Championship
by AFP

The All Blacks have made wholesale changes for their Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in New Plymouth on Saturday including a recall for Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Coach Steve Hansen billed the promotion of seven players, when he named his side Thursday, as a chance for them to take "opportunities" after his frontline unit struggled to beat Australia in their last outing.

It will be the flying wing Milner-Skudder's first Test since the 2015 World Cup final.

He has been dogged by injury since then but now gets the chance to cement his place on the wing with Ben Smith taking a break from rugby for the rest of the year and Julian Savea failing to make the squad.

It is one of four backline changes with Israel Dagg replacing Reiko Ioane on the right wing, Anton Lienert-Brown taking the 13 jersey from Ryan Crotty and TJ Perenara starting at scrum-half with Aaron Smith not even making the bench.

In the forwards, blindside flanker Vaea Fifita gets his first start in his second Test, lock Luke Romano makes his first start of the year while Ardie Savea starts at openside flanker with Sam Cane dropping to the bench.

While the All Blacks have won their opening two matches against Australia, Argentina have lost twice to South Africa.

Hansen said while Argentina would be "desperate" to get their first championship points of the season it was a chance for lesser known All Blacks to stand up.

"This Test match is all about us taking opportunities. It's an opportunity for our players to grow individually and collectively as a team," he said.

"We've taken some key learnings from our first two Tests against Australia and now it's an opportunity to take those learnings into a Test match against an old foe who we know pretty well now.

"Argentina are a dynamic, physical team who are growing their style of game. They are a proud people as well so they'll be desperate, so we'll have to be ready for that challenge."

This will be the fourth Test the All Blacks have played at New Plymouth's Yarrow Stadium where they have never been beaten.

They last played there in June 2013, defeating France 24-9.

The All Blacks have played Argentina 24 times, winning 23 and with one draw.

Argentina has made a host of changes to its team for te clash, after two disappointing results against South Africa.


IN: Israel Dagg, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Wyatt Crockett, Luke Romano, Vaea Fifita, Ngani Laumape

OUT: Rieko Ioane, Aaron Smith, Ryan Crotty, Ben Smith, Liam Squire, Kane Hames, Sam Whitelock

New Zealand to take on Argentina

1. Joe Moddy

2. Dane Coles

3. Nepo Laulala

4. Luke Romano

5. Brodie Retallick

6. Vaea Fifita

7. Ardie Savea

8. Kieran Read

9. TJ Perenara

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Nehe Milner-Skudder

12. Sonny Bill Williams

13. Anton Lienert-Brown

14. Israel Dagg

15. Damian McKenzie


16. Codie Taylor

17. Wyatt Crockett

18. Ofa Tuungafasi

19. Scott Barrett

20. Sam Cane

21. Tawera Kerr-Barow

22. Lima Sopoaga

23. Ngani Laumape

Argentina to take on New Zealand

IN: Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Guido Petti, Benjamin Macome, Santiago Gonzales Iglesias, Santiago Cordero

OUT: Ramiro Herrera, Tomaz Lavanini, Juan Miguel Leguizamon, Juan Martin Hernandez, Ramiro Moyano,

1. Lucas Noguera Paz

2. Agustin Creevy

3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

4. Guido Petti

5. Matias Alemanno

6. Pablo Matera

7. Javier Ortega Desio

8. Benjamin Macome

9. Tomas Cubelli

10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Emiliano Boffelli

12. Jeronimo de la Fuente

13. Matias Moroni

14. Santiago Cordero

15. Joaquin Tuculet


16. Julian Montoya

17. Santiago Garcia Botta

18. Enrique Pieretto Heilan

19. Marcos Kremer

20. Tomas Lezana

21. Martin Landajo

22. Santiago Gonzales Iglesias

23. Matias Orlando