PREVIEW: All Blacks v Argentina (Mendoza)
Settling into their games as quickly as possible in their first outings of the season will be the requirement for the All Blacks and Argentina in their Test in Mendoza on Sunday (NZT).
Match Details: Argentina v New Zealand, Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza, Sunday, July 9, 7.10am (NZT).
Won: Argentina 2, New Zealand 32, Drawn 1
Last time: New Zealand 53-3 Argentina, Hamilton, September 3, 2022
Referee: Angus Gardner
The All Blacks go into the Test having played more recently in the DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition than many of the Argentina players involved in European and Japan rugby, which for many finished in May or earlier. But both sides are in the formative stages of their campaigns, so the team that settles fastest will be in the best position to push for the win.
ALL BLACKS ON TOP
Going into their 2023 season, the All Blacks are unbeaten in their last seven Tests, while Argentina have won only once in their last six Tests – a 30-29 win over England in November. In 13 Tests in Argentina, the All Blacks have never lost, winning 12 with one draw. Three of the All Blacks' dynamic back four from last year, Caleb Clarke (551m), Rieko Ioane (538m) and Jordie Barrett (435m), are starting in Mendoza. Along with the absent Will Jordan (435m), they dominated carries in the Championship last year and were the only players to make more than 400 metres with the ball in hand. During the 2022 Test programme for all nations, New Zealand made 25 dominant carries per game, the most of any Tier 1 nation, and seven more, per game, than Argentina.
Like the All Blacks, the Argentine side will be without their most recognised first five-eighths. Nicolas Sanchez has been named on the bench with 31-Test Santiago Races to start. Lucio Cinti, at second five-eighths, has 12 Test appearances. In the pack, tighthead prop Lucio Sordoni has only three Tests. He last played in 2020 against the All Blacks in Newcastle but has suffered injuries since then. Loosehead prop Thomas Rooster has played 13 Tests. Influential hooker and captain Julian Montoya has plenty of experience to call on. However, He will play his 86th Test with locks Matias Alemanno having 84 caps and Tomas Lavanini having 78. Blindside flanker Pablo Matera has 91 caps and will be a leader in the loose for the side, as openside flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez has 20 caps and No.8 Rodrigo Bruni 18.
Argentina has a deserved reputation for their ability to attack from anywhere on the field. In last year's Rugby Championship, they had a 93 per cent success rate at exiting their 22m zone – 69 successes out of 74 attempts.
All Blacks (caps in brackets):
1. Ethan de Groot (13) 2. Dane Coles (84) 3. Tyrel Lomax (23) 4. Scott Barrett (58) 5. Josh Lord (2) 6. Shannon Frizell (22) Sam Cane (captain – 86) 8. Ardie Savea (70) 9. Aaron Smith (114) 10. Damian McKenzie (40) 11. Caleb Clarke (15)
12. Jordie Barrett (48) 13. Rieko Ioane (59) 14. Emoni Narawa * 15. Beauden Barrett (112)
Reserves: 16. Codie Taylor (76) 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (50) 18. Nepo Laulala (45) 19. Tupou Vaa’i (18) 20. Dalton Papali’i (22) 21. Finlay Christie (14) 22. Richie Mo’unga (44) 23. Braydon Ennor (6)
15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Lucio Cinti, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo.
Reserves: 16 Augustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Pedro Rubiolo, 20 Sanriago Grondona, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matias Orlando.
🎧 PODCAST | In his final year with the side, Darren Shand lifts the lid on 20 years of managing the All Blacks.— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 30, 2023