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All Blacks bring in uncapped playmaker for Los Pumas Test

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New Zealand on Thursday named an unchanged starting XV for their Rugby Championship clash against Argentina, with head coach Ian Foster demanding further improvement following the rousing win against the Springboks that saved his job.

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Foster kept faith for Saturday’s match against the Pumas in Christchurch with the same players that beat World Cup champions South Africa 35-23 in Johannesburg just under two weeks ago to end a run of three straight defeats.

Days later the New Zealand Rugby board voted unanimously to retain the under-fire Foster, despite the All Blacks winning just two of their last seven Tests.

“We’re clearly wanting to work on that Test being a level for us,” said Foster after naming the first unchanged All Blacks starting side for four years.

“Whilst it was a great result, we still know there’s a lot of things we could have done better.

“After a strong performance, we want to make sure that we really focus on backing that up and growing from that.

“One of the keys now for us is that for every Test, there has to be an edge.”

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There is one change on the bench, with flyhalf Beauden Barrett ruled out by a neck injury and replaced by the uncapped utility back Stephen Perofeta after an impressive season for the Blues.

Foster said Barrett was “quite stiff” after a knock in training but could yet be in contention to play in next week’s Test against the Pumas in Hamilton.

After a Covid-19 outbreak, injuries and suspensions depleted New Zealand in the 1-2 home series defeat to Ireland, Foster was pleased to name an unchanged line-up but stressed performances would be key to maintaining a settled side.

“The onus is on the players to go out on to that park to perform at a level that this team needs to perform. If they keep doing that, then it does make it hard to change,” said Foster.

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The arrival on the training pitch of new attack coach Joe Schmidt was welcomed by Foster, though he warned not to expect immediate changes with the former Ireland head coach employing “a start slow and build-type strategy”.

Foster has been joined by new forwards coach Jason Ryan and Schmidt on an expanded three-man selection panel.

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:45 (04:45 ART; 07.45 GMT)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brian McNeice (Ireland)

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