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Rugby Championship: New Zealand v Argentina match preview
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New Zealand captain Richie McCaw says the All Blacks cannot afford to ease off in their Rugby Championship clash with Argentina on Saturday.
The world champions are overwhelming favourites to register their second win of this year’s competition when they face the Pumas at McLean Park.
McCaw’s side began their campaign with a 12-12 draw against Australia before thrashing the Wallabies 51-20 in week two.
The All Blacks have never lost to Argentina and are widely expected to usurp South Africa – at least temporarily – at the top of the table with another win. But McCaw says the hosts cannot take their eye off the ball.
"We have to walk off the field having had our level of performance the same if not better than what we did last time (against Australia)," McCaw said.
"There were things we didn't get right against the Aussies and we want to be better than that. That's certainly the only way we can judge it. Hopefully the scoreboard will reflect that."
Beauden Barrett will start at fly-half for the All Blacks after selectors decided not to risk Aaron Cruden due to the chest injury he suffered against Australia.
Coach Steve Hansen has made one other change to his starting XV, with Israel Dagg returning at full-back. Ben Smith moves to right wing and Cory Jane drops out of the match-day squad altogether.
Argentina also make a total of two changes as Manuel Montero drops out to be replaced by Horacio Agulla on the wing and Leonardo Senatore comes into the back row for Pablo Matera.
The Pumas are still looking to win their first match since their entry into the Rugby Championship in 2012 and will be hard pressed end that wait this weekend.
New Zealand: 15 Isreal Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Wyatt Crockett, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 Liam Messam, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Kieran Read.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Joe Moody, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 1 Marcos Ayerza, 2 Augustin Creevy (c), 3 Ramiro Herrera, 4 Mariano Galarza, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 8 Leonardo Senatore.
Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Luca Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Baez, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Imhoff.
Watch New Zealand v Argentina live on Sky Sports 3HD from 8am on Saturday.
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