ABs Name Full Strength Side Against Argentina

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has started the Rugby World Cup as he intends to finish it, with his best available team on the field. Hansen has named a predictable
20 Sep 2015 09:31
ABs Name Full Strength Side Against Argentina
Nehe Milner-Skudder will start the All Blacks’ first match at the Rugby World Cup on the right wing

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has started the Rugby World Cup as he intends to finish it, with his best available team on the field.

Hansen has named a predictable starting fifteen to play Argentina at Wembley on Monday (Fiji Time) as the All Blacks take their first step toward defending the Webb Ellis trophy.

There is just one change to the starting fifteen that pounded the Wallabies at Eden Park five weeks ago with blindside Jerome Kaino reclaiming the No 6 jersey from Victor Vito, who drops to the bench.

That means the All Blacks will again carry no specialist lock in the reserves with Kaino covering the second row and Vito and Sam Cane providing extra loose forward firepower from the bench.

With Hansen selecting five loose forwards in his 23 for the second test running, there can now be little doubt the All Blacks have identified the breakdown as being the decisive element at this World Cup.

The squad named to play the Pumas features 11 players making their World Cup debut, but is vastly experienced with a staggering 1211 caps in the starting team, and a further 316 on the bench.

With an average age of 28 there are sure to be calls of Dad’s Army if the side does not perform, but nobody could accuse the All Blacks’ side of being boring.

Nehe Milner-Skudder’s rapid rise continues with a start in a No 14 jersey that could be hotly contested in coming weeks as Waisake Naholo returns from his broken leg.

The back three of Ben Smith, Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea will be the envy of most teams at the tournament.

While there are no real surprises in Hansen’s starting fifteen, the bench has a plenty of talking points including the return of tight head prop Charlie Faumuina.

Faumuina will play his first test since November last year after battling back from a neck injury that had threatened to end his World Cup dream.

Beauden Barrett gets the nod on the bench ahead of Colin Slade as Dan Carter’s backup at first five eighth, while Sonny Bill Williams edges Malakai Fekitoa as the midfield cover for the old firm of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Hansen said it was exciting to finally name his team for the first match of the tournament and that his players were itching to get on the park.

“There’s real excitement, enthusiasm and hunger in the group. We all can’t wait for our tournament to start.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception here in London. The boys have really enjoyed connecting with our fans and this wonderful city. But the business is about to start and we’re all looking forward to that because, after all, that’s why we’re here.”

The side picked reflected the respect the All Blacks held for Argentina.

“We know a lot more about now because of their involvement in the Rugby Championship. But it also means they know a lot more about us.

“We will need to be at our very best to get our tournament away to a good start.”

  • Ben Smith
  • Nehe Milner-Skudder
  • Conrad Smith
  • Ma’a Nonu
  • Julian Savea
  • Dan Carter
  • Aaron Smith
  • Kieran Read
  • Richie McCaw (c)
  • Jerome Kaino
  • Brodie Retallick
  • Sam Whitelock
  • Owen Franks
  • Dane Coles
  • Tony Woodcock
  • Reserves
  • Keven Mealamu
  • Wyatt Crockett
  • Charlie Faumuina
  • Victor Vito
  • Sam Cane
  • TJ Perenara
  • Beauden Barrett
  • Sonny Bill Williams




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