New Zealand v Argentina: Teams and Prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND FOUR: Argentina’s Santiago Carreras faces the daunting task of making his first Test appearance at flyhalf against the All Blacks Saturday.
Carreras’ introduction is a bold selection gamble forced by injuries and poor results.
Under pressure coach Mario Ledesma lost his first-choice number 10, Nicolas Sanchez, to injury in last week’s 0-39 loss to the New Zealanders but had a ready replacement in Domingo Miotti.
Instead, he opted to pitch Gloucester’s Carreras into the fray for the Rugby Championship round-four clash in Brisbane, even though he is unproven as a playmaker at Test level, leaving Miotti on the bench.
Ledesma said 23-year-old Carreras, who normally plays Tests at fullback or wing, was a “natural” in the number 10 jersey.
“He looks dangerous with the ball, has a good right foot and we’ve wanted to put him in that position for a while,” he said.
Last week’s shutout by New Zealand followed two heavy losses to South Africa and Ledesma said his team’s long stint on the road was taking its toll.
Sanchez was one of four starters from last Sunday unable to play again because of injury niggles, limiting Ledesma’s selection option.
“They play practically 12 months of the year and it is not by chance that so many injuries appear,” he said.
“On top of that, we compete against the best teams in the world.”
Argentina defied the odds to notch their first-ever win over the All Blacks in Sydney last year, but since that 25-10 victory have lost to the New Zealanders 0-38 and 0-39.
New Zealand have also made extensive changes but coach Ian Foster has the luxury of experimenting from a position of strength at the top of the tournament table.
He has also picked an inexperienced Test flyhalf in Damian McKenzie, although the versatile back has regularly filled the role for Super Rugby’s Chiefs.
McKenzie was relishing the prospect of linking up with fullback Jordie Barrett and centre Quinn Tupea.
“Jordie plays what’s in front of him, he plays off the cuff and he’s very optimistic with his play, so it’s great to be able to play alongside him,” he said.
“I’m really excited to pair up with Jordie and obviously a lot of the other backs — we’ve got Quinn outside me, who I’ve played a bit with at the start of the year (with the Chiefs).
“Hopefully we can play some free-flowing footy.”
Captain Ardie Savea said he expected a fierce physical challenge from Argentina and the All Blacks had to respond in kind.
“It’s about backing up. If we turn up thinking the same performance we did last week will be enough, we’re kidding ourselves,” he said.
“We know the Argie boys are a wounded beast and they’re dangerous right now, so it we don’t turn up it could be a long day.”
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) September 16, 2021
New Zealand have won 30 of their 32 previous men’s Tests against Argentina, including their last two on the bounce; they have also won three of their four meetings on neutral territory in that time.
New Zealand have kept Argentina scoreless in each of their last two meetings in men’s Tests; only twice since 1900 has any Tier 1 nation kept another Tier 1 nation scoreless for more consecutive games (England – 4 games vs Ireland from 1956 to 1959; France – 3 games vs Italy from 1959 to 1961).
Argentina have lost three consecutive men’s Tests heading into this fixture after having lost only twice in their 10 Tests prior to that run (W5, D3); the last time they lost more in succession was a 10-game streak from September 2018 to September 2019.
No player has made more tackles than Argentinian duo Gonzalo Bertanou (41/45) and Julian Montoya (40/40) in the 2021 edition of The Rugby Championship; in fact, Montoya has missed only one of his last 84 tackle attempts in Test rugby.
Akira Ioane (New Zealand) has beaten 17 defenders in The Rugby Championship in 2021, six more than any other player in the competition; he has also made five clean breaks and two try assists in the campaign so far.
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Players to watch:
For New Zealand: All Blacks coach Ian Foster has opted to rest some of his first-choice players for the much-anticipated match against South Africa next week. This means the likes of Damian McKenzie gets a start at 10 as one of the 11 changes to the side. McKenzie, who is normally preferred at fullback, finally has a chance to prove himself with Beauden Barrett on the bench and Richie Mo’unga absent. Tere is an entirely new starting forward pack, with Ardie Savea returning from a head injury. Veteran loosehead prop Joe Moody will start a test for the first time this season after recovering from a foot injury and coming off the bench last weekend.
For Argentina: The No.10 Santiago Carreras and the centers are Santiago Chocobares, making his first start, and Lucio Cinti, a Tokyo Olympics sevens medalist, entre unfamiliar terrtoroty. However, the trio has an opportunity to make a name for themselves as they go against a New Zealand ‘B’ team. Former captain Pablo Matera is always one to make an impact as he stats at No.8 after Rodrigo Bruni hurt his shoulder. Lock Tomas Lavanini will bring much-needed physicality in the second row.
Head to head:
@rugby365com: New Zealand to win by 10 points
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Damien McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Carlos Muzzio, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Matias Moroni.
Date: Saturday, September 18
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20.05 (22.05 NZST; 10.05 GMT; 07.05 ART)
Expected weather: Its a very warm and sunny Saturday with a high of 24°C, low of 13°C
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Source: AFP & @rugby365com