WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Head coach Ian Foster has retained the starting lineup that beat the Springboks in Johannesburg two weeks ago for the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship test against Argentina at Christchurch on Saturday.
After making several changes through New Zealand’s home series against Ireland and in the first test in South Africa, Foster finally hit on the combination which beat the World Cup champion Springboks 35-23 at Ellis Park.
Only one change has been made on the bench where Blues utility Stephen Perofeta has been named to likely to make his test debut in place of Beauden Barrett, who has a neck injury.
Foster retained Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf after his influential role in the win over the Springboks which ended New Zealand’s three-match losing streak.
Young props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax, who also were key performers in South Africa, will continue in the front row with hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho. Shannon Frizell also is retained on the blindside flank.
Argentina is in top spot and the All Blacks are in last place on the four-team Rugby Championship standings. The All Blacks have won 31 of 33 tests against Argentina.
Saturday’s test is the first in Christchurch for six years.
“The All Blacks have such a rich history here and it’s exciting to build on that,” Foster said. “The recent form of Argentina makes this a test one that we are looking forward to. And the fact that the Rugby Championship is incredibly even means this test is vital to us.”
Pumas head coach Michael Chieka has tinkered with the lineup which beat Australia 48-17 in Argentina two weeks ago.
Prop Joel Sclavi returns for his sixth test and second start of the season, and Lucio Cinto has been named on the left wing. Matias Orlando moves to inside center.
Pablo Matera will start at No. 8 at the stadium where he played the last season of Super Rugby for the Crusaders.
Lock Guido Petti has been selected on the bench for what likely will be his 70th test, making him the 20th most-capped Argentina player.
New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Tyrel Lomax, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ethan de Groot. Reserves: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa’i, Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie, Stephen Perofeta, Quinn Tupaea.
Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Lucio Cinto, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Joel Sclavi, Julian Montoya (captain), Thomas Gallo. Reserves: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Eduardo Bello, Guido Petti, Santiago Grondona, Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Albornoz, Santiago Cordero. By STEVE McMORRAN AP Sports Writer