New Zealand shuffles forward pack
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Coach Ian Foster made three changes to his forward pack Thursday to face a new-look Argentina on Saturday.
The All Blacks are desperately looking to avoid the ignominy of a third defeat in a row.
The three-time world champions have been under intense scrutiny from fans and pundits after shock losses to Australia and the Pumas in consecutive weeks during the Tri Nations.
If they fail to win on Saturday at Newcastle, north of Sydney, they will become the first New Zealand team to lose three in a row since 1998.
Foster, who has faced calls for his axing after just five games in charge, shuffled his pack to deal with an Argentinian team boasting 10 changes from the side who started the 15-all draw with the Wallabies last weekend.
All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala comes into the front row, with Tyrel Lomax benched, while lock Scott Barrett was preferred to Patrick Tuipulotu.
Loose forward Akira Ioane will start in the No.6 jersey, after his Test debut against Australia in Brisbane this month, in place of Shannon Frizell.
The key feature of the squad is the selection of loosehead prop Joe Moody in his 50th Test.
Moody made his Test debut in 2014, and has started 42 of his Tests to date.
“We’ve had a great week building into what will be a vital Test for us,” said Foster.
“It’s exciting in the sense that we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves after our last game, and we also have the opportunity to win the Tri Nations.
“There’s a real determination in the team to perform well, not only for ourselves, but also our families and friends at home and our country.”
Foster has also congratulated Moody on his milestone.
“He’s a key part of our group, he’s rock solid and goes about his work in a really good way. He’s a popular member of the team and it’s a great achievement for him.”
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Will Jordan.
Date: Saturday, November 28
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19.45 AEDT (21.45 NZ time; 05.45 Buenos Aires time; 08.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Paul Williams