Pumas target historic win in New Zealand
September 6, 2012
Brodie Retallick starts for the All Blacks © Getty Images
New Zealand host Argentina in Wellington on Saturday in the third round of the Rugby Championship and the All Blacks will be hoping to keep their unbeaten run going.
The All Blacks beat their Australian rivals in Sydney and then back in Auckland and they sit pretty at the top of the Rugby Championship table with a 100% record. Steve Hansen's reign as Kiwi coach has started perfectly but he will have a familiar face sitting alongside Argentina's coaching staff come Saturday.
Sir Graham Henry is currently acting as an adviser to Santiago Phelan and he will hope to ruin the All Blacks' party in Wellington. The Pumas lost their opening match of the Championship to the Boks in Cape Town but they rallied in the second Test and fought their way to a 16-16 draw in Mendoza. They felt aggrieved at not being able to get the all important debut win and they will face a mammoth task to obtain that this weekend.
New Zealand - Player to Watch: In his 23-minute cameo against Ireland in the third Test, Aaron Cruden was quite superb for the All Blacks. With Dan Carter sidelined, Cruden will aim to prove that there is more than just one fly-half plying his trade in New Zealand.
New Zealand - Team News: Hansen has made six changes to the side that beat the Wallabies. Fly-half Dan Carter was originally named in the starting XV but he has been forced to pull out due to a calf strain. Aaron Cruden comes into the side in his place while there are also starts for Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito, Brodie Retallick and Tony Woodcock. Savea replaces Hosea Gear while Smith comes in for the now departed Sonny bill Williams. Vito starts in Liam Messam's place with Retallick given the nod over Sam Whitelock and Woodcock replacing Wyatt Crockett.
Argentina - Player to Watch: Patricio Albacete will look to disrupt a relatively inexperienced All Blacks second-row unit. With substantial Top 14 and international experience to his name, Albacete has the nous and the ability to cause the Kiwis some difficulty.
Argentina - Team News: Argentina have opted to make two changes ahead of their Test with star playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez coming into the team after recovering from injury and he replaces Nicolas Sanchez. Phelan has also called on ex London Irish and Stade Francais back-row Juan Manuel Leguizamon who replaces Alvaro Galindo.
The Pumas will look to Lobbe for inspiration © Getty Images
Key Battle: Leguizamon is back in Pumas colours and he will face a baptism of fire in the form of Richie McCaw. The world's best openside is a master of the dark arts and will look to pile pressure on a man who has had a lack of match time.
Trivia: Winger Gonzalo Camacho is the only person in Argentina's starting XV not to have played any club rugby in France
Stats: Argentina have scored an average of 13.57 points per game against the All Blacks while the Kiwis have returned with 44.14.
"We want to get a result, but we know we have to play a perfect game. We are positive." - Pumas centre Santiago Fernandez
Prediction: The All Blacks will record a convincing victory over the Pumas
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton