Retallick takes charge with All Blacks wary of Argentina

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) –


New Zealand coach Ian Foster has warned Brodie Retallick to expect a tough workout from Argentina when the veteran leads the All Blacks for the first time Sunday in the Rugby Championship.

Foster handed the captain's armband to the lock for the clash on Australia's Gold Coast after Ardie Savea suffered a head knock while leading New Zealand to victory against Australia last week.

The coach also made six changes to his starting line-up, saying he wanted the team to be fresh and excited about facing Los Pumas in the tournament third round.

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma similarly made six changes to the side that crashed to South Africa in both their opening fixtures, with star flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez returning to the fold.

Mindful of Argentina's shock win over the All Blacks in Sydney last year, Foster said there would be no complacency.

Argentina's historic 25-15 victory last November followed a pandemic-disrupted build-up and Ledesma's men have ensured a similarly disjointed road to Sunday's match.

"They've had a heck of a build-up ... but we learned last year that when they spend a lot of time together it really gels them and unifies them," Foster said.

"We're expecting a really torrid game."

Retallick leads the side after Savea was omitted as a precaution along with Codie Taylor, even though both players passed concussion tests.

- Pumas focus on discipline -

Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith, who have also captained the side this year as regular skipper Sam Cane recovers from chest surgery, are both on paternity leave and did not travel to Australia.

Retallick spent last year playing in Japan but Foster said the towering lock had lost none of the qualities that have earned him 86 Test caps.

"We've seen him come back into the black jersey and almost start where he left off," he said.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez is back for Argentina
Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez is back for Argentina Geoff Caddick AFP

Luke Jacobson comes in for Savea, while Asafo Aumua earns his first Test start replacing Taylor as hooker.

He will line up in the front row alongside Karl Tu'inukuafe, who replaces George Bower as loose-head prop.

In the backs, winger Sevu Reece, centre George Bridge and scrumhalf TJ Perenara replace Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane and Brad Weber respectively.

Prop Joe Moody makes his first squad appearance of the year after foot surgery while Jordie Barrett returns at fullback after having his red card for dangerous play against Australia rescinded.

Sanchez is among six changes to the starting XV for Argentina, preferred to Domingo Miotti.

Bautista Delguy comes in for Ignacio Mendy on the right wing while Matias Moroni got the nod at outside centre and Santiago Cordero replaces Santiago Carreras on the left wing.

Lock Marcos Kremer and tighthead prop Santiago Medrano freshen up the pack after being on the bench for their last match.

Argentina scored one only try in 160 minutes of rugby in South Africa and captain Julian Montoya said his players had used their time in quarantine in Australia to reflect on what went wrong.

"We were locked up for two weeks, with a lot of self-criticism and working to be better," he said, pointing to poor discipline as a problem after they conceded 21 penalties in their last match.

"We have to improve discipline compared to the last game. We've worked on that a lot. All the teams we face will push you to the limit, but we must learn from what happened and use it as fuel to improve."

New Zealand (15-1): Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane; Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick (capt); Nepo Laulala, Asafo Aumua, Karl Tu'inukuafe

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'i, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane

Argentina (15-1): Juan Cruz Mallia; Bautista Delguy, Matias Moroni, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Cordero; Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Rodrigo Bruni, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera; Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti; Santiago Medrano, Julian Montoya (capt), Facundo Gigena

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Carlos Muzzio, Enrique Pieretto, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Gonzalo Garcia, Santiago Chocobares, Emiliano Boffelli