Former Waratah Ta'avao named for All Blacks debut, Sonny Bill returns

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Former Waratahs prop Angus Ta'avao has been named to make his All Blacks debut against the Pumas this weekend, while Sonny Bill Williams will make his Test return.

Ta'avao was not offered a contract with NSW at the end of the 2017 season but after joining the Chiefs this year, he has experienced a remarkable form turnaround.

The 28-year-old was called into the All Blacks camp after an injury to Joe Mooday earlier in the Rugby Championship but this is his first inclusion in the 23.

The replacement is one of seven changes to the 23 that lost to South Africa in New Zealand a fortnight ago.

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read is sitting out the Argentina leg of the tour and star back Damian McKenzie returned to New Zealand during the week after a family bereavement.

Sam Whitelock will captain the side in Read's absence.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the Pumas would be dangerous after a win over Australia away from home.

"They're full of confidence and self-belief which will make them a very dangerous beast," he said.

"From a selection point of view, we've always seen these next two Test matches as a great opportunity to replicate the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup, where we'll have to beat quality teams back-to-back if we are to keep advancing in the tournament.

Kieran Read is likely to miss the June Series. Photo: Getty ImagesHansen said they had learned from their surprise loss to the Springboks in Wellington.

"We've taken some key learnings from the loss to South Africa, which we look forward to implementing on Saturday.

"Our week's preparation starts off the field with our individual and collective clarity and builds during the week through our training."

Ramiro Herrera and Bautista Ezcurra have been called up by Argentina as the South Americans make two changes to their starting side.

Herrera will be returning at prop, while Ezcurra will come in at centre to replace injured Ramiro Moyano, the Pumas said on Thursday.

Matias Moroni will move to wing, with Ezcurra joining Jeronimo de la Fuente in the centre.

Matias Orlando and Sebastian Cancelliere, who have both yet to play in this year's Rugby Championship, return as replacements for Saturday's game at Velez Sarsfield.

The Argentines will be looking for their first win against New Zealand in what will be the 28th encounter between the two sides.

New Zealand could clinch the championship with a win and a bonus point against a side ranked eight places below them in the world standings.

Nevertheless, the Pumas come into the match confident they can hand the All Blacks, beaten 36-34 by South Africa in their last outing, a second straight loss for the first time in seven years.

Until this year, the South Americans had never won two games in the same Rugby Championship season since joining in 2012. However, this year they have beaten both Australia and South Africa as they enjoy their best ever performance in the tournament.

The match in Velez Sarsfield is a 50,000 sell out.

The All Blacks take on Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday September 30 local, kicking off on Sunday September 30 at 8:40am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

All Blacks to face the Pumas

IN: Shannon Frizell, Luke Whitelock, Angus Ta'avao, Sonny Bill Williams, Waisake Naholo, Nathan Harris, Richie Mounga

OUT: Liam Squire, Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Jordie Barrett, Liam Coltman Jack Goodhue, Damian McKenzie

1. Karl Tu'inukuafe (7)

2. Codie Taylor (36)

3. Ofa Tuungafasi (20)

4. Samuel Whitelock (103) - captain

5. Scott Barrett (23)

6. Shannon Frizell (3)

7. Sam Cane (58)

8. Luke Whitelock (6)

9. TJ Perenara (49)

10. Beauden Barrett (67)

11. Rieko Ioane (18)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (47)

13. Ryan Crotty (39)

14. Waisake Naholo (22)

15. Ben Smith (72)

Reserves

16. Nathan Harris (16)

17. Tim Perry (3)

18. Angus Ta'avao *

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (17)

20. Ardie Savea (29)

21. Aaron Smith (77)

22. Richie Mo'unga (2)

23. Anton Lienert-Brown (28)

Pumas to face the All Blacks

IN: Ramiro Herrera, Tomas Cubelli, Matias Orlando, Sebastian Cancelliere, 

OUT: Santiago Garcia Botta, Ramiro Moyano, Martin Landajo, Juan Cruz Mallia

1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

2. Agustin Creevy

3. Ramiro Herrera

4. Guido Petti

5. Tomas Lavanini

6. Pablo Matera

7. Marcos Kremer

8. Ortega Desio

9. Gonzalo Bertranou

10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Matias Moroni

12. Bautista Ezcura

13. Jeronimo De La Fuente

14. Bautista Delguy

15. Emiliano Boffelli

Reserves

16. Julian Montoya

17. Juan Pablo Zeiss

18. Santiago Medrano

19. Matias Alemanno

20. Juan Manuel Leguizamon

21. Tomas Cubelli

22. Matias Orlando

23. Sebastian Cancelliere