Mealamu on All Blacks bench for Argentina clash

Mealamu on All Blacks bench for Argentina clash

Just one Blues player has been named in the All Blacks squad to face Argentina in the Investec Rugby Championship match in Napier on Saturday.
Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu is named on the bench, while Charlie Faumuina and Steven Luatua have been excluded from the 23.
Tony Woodcock and Jerome Kaino were not considered due to injury.
The team is (with Test caps in brackets):
Starting XV
1. Wyatt Crockett (29)
2. Dane Coles (20)
3. Owen Franks (59)
4. Brodie Retallick (29)
5. Samuel Whitelock (56)
6. Liam Messam (33)
7. Richie McCaw (c) (129)
8. Kieran Read (64)
9. Aaron Smith (31)
10. Beauden Barrett (21)
11. Julian Savea (24)
12. Ma’a Nonu (92)
13. Conrad Smith (78)
14. Ben Smith (31)
15. Israel Dagg (39)
Reserves:
16. Keven Mealamu (115)
17. Ben Franks (33)
18. Joe Moody (1)
19. Jeremy Thrush (5)
20. Sam Cane (16)
21. TJ Perenara (5)
22. Colin Slade (11)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (4)
There are three changes to the starting XV, with two of those changes as a result of injuries.
Beauden Barrett will make his first Test start in the number 10 jersey, replacing Aaron Cruden, who is still recovering from the chest muscle injury suffered in the Bledisloe Cup Test victory two weeks ago, with Colin Slade coming onto the bench.
Meanwhile, Ma’a Nonu has recovered from his shoulder bruising and is back at 12, while Israel Dagg is in the 15 jersey, with Ben Smith moving to the right wing.
Speaking on the changes to the starting XV, All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: †”Aaron could have played but the selectors weren’t prepared to take the risk of him re-injuring himself and being out for a long period.”
Regarding the selection of Dagg, Hansen added: “The selectors felt this was the right time to give Israel an opportunity. We also want to make it clear that his selection is not a reflection on Cory Jane’s play, as we have been very happy with his performances.”
There are also two changes to the bench – prop Joe Moody replaces Charlie Faumuina and lock Jeremy Thrush comes in for Steven Luatua. Hansen said one of the changes was based on form and the other was tactical.
“We wanted a specialist lock for this encounter so Jeremy is the obvious choice with Dominic Bird and Patrick Tuipulotu still not ready to play. In the second change, the selectors have been unhappy with Charlie’s form.”
Looking forward to this weekend, Hansen said: “There is a lot of respect for this Argentinean team. Their last two performances against South Africa have been right up there and shows that they are capable of beating top opposition.
“The other challenge this week is on ourselves to repeat and improve on the performance against Australia. That is about every individual ñ from the coaches to the players and management – being totally accountable for their roles within the team throughout the week and getting our preparation bone deep and genuine, both physically and mentally.
“I would also like to thank the people of the Hawke’s Bay for their support and help throughout the week. It’s been fantastic to be able to bring the team to a place we don’t normally come to and we look forward to their support on Saturday.”