First Test for Tahuriorangi, Mo’unga to start and Milner-Skudder returns
The All Blacks team has been named to play Argentina in the Investec Rugby Championship Test at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, on Saturday 8 September, with first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga to make his first Test start, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi set to make his Test debut off the bench and Nehe Milner-Skudder returning to the Test side for the first time since October last year.
The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets. * new cap):
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (5)
2. Codie Taylor (34)
3. Owen Franks (100)
4. Brodie Retallick (70)
5. Scott Barrett (21)
6. Shannon Frizell (1)
7. Ardie Savea (27)
8. Kieran Read – captain (111)
9. TJ Perenara (47)
10. Richie Mo’unga (1)
11. Waisake Naholo (21)
12. Ngani Laumape (7)
13. Jack Goodhue (3)
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder (11)
15. Ben Smith (70)
16. Nathan Harris (15)
17. Tim Perry (1)
18. Ofa Tuungafasi (18)
19. Samuel Whitelock (101)
20. Luke Whitelock (5)
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi *
22. Damian McKenzie (17)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (26)
Milner-Skudder was injured in the All Blacks Test in Cape Town in last year’s Investec Rugby Championship and returns on the right wing. As well as Mo’unga and Tahuriorangi, other back changes in the matchday 23 see TJ Perenara named to start at halfback and Ben Smith move back to fullback.
In the forwards, Karl Tu’inukuafe starts at loosehead prop, in for the injured Joe Moody, and Tim Perry comes into the prop reserves. In the second row, Scott Barrett starts, with Sam Whitelock moving to the bench. Shannon Frizell will make his second Test start at blindside flanker, Ardie Savea is at seven, with Luke Whitelock coming into the loose forward reserves.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “While we’ve made a number of changes from our last outing, this is not a reflection on Argentina but rather a desire by us to grow the experience and depth of our squad. Secondary to that, we also know that if we don’t use the whole squad across a long season, we’ll run out of steam later in the year.
“In making these changes, it also needs to be said that the high expectation we place on ourselves remains the same, regardless of who we’ve selected. The All Blacks jersey demands this.”
Hansen added: “We’re very aware of the Argentinian challenge. We know that they’re hungry for Test success against the All Blacks and after their recent win over South Africa, they’ll be coming here confident that they can achieve their desired goal.
“This means that we’ll need to step up with our own response and be better than we were in our recent Test in Auckland. We’ll need to concentrate on setting a strong foundation throughout the 80 minutes, particularly in our set pieces and our strike plays, along with our defence. Throughout the week we’ve concentrated on getting our personal and team processes right and delivering on these will also be key come Saturday.”
Hansen further added that the team was looking forward to playing the first-ever All Blacks Test in Nelson.
“We’ve had fantastic support from everyone in the community. It’s been quite special and on behalf of the entire All Blacks squad and management, we’d like to thank the people of Nelson for their hospitality and generous support.”
Mini bio – Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
Outstanding, young Rotorua-born halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi played club rugby in New Plymouth in 2014-15 and consistently impressive performances saw him selected for the New Zealand U20s in 2015, where they won the World Rugby Junior World Championship. Later that year he was selected as part of a strong NZ Barbarians team that won 34-17 against the Maori All Blacks. A member of the Ngati Pikiao iwi, Tahuriorangi then went on to debut for the Maori All Blacks in 2017 against the British and Irish Lions. The 23 year old made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2016 and made ten appearances before moving to the Chiefs in 2018.
* Nelson has strong historical connections to New Zealand’s national game: the first recognised game of rugby played in New Zealand took place on Saturday 14 May 1870 between Nelson College and the Nelson Football Club. A crowd of 200 watched the game at Nelson’s Botanic Reserve with the “Town” team beating the College side 2-0.
* The nearest the All Blacks have come to playing in Nelson was in 1972 when they played Marlborough in Blenheim. They won 59-10.
* The All Blacks and Argentina have played each other 26 times since 1976 with the All Blacks winning 25 times and a 21-all draw in Buenos Aires in 1985.one draw.
* The last remaining tickets to the Nelson Test are still available from www.allblacks.com/tickets. The match will kick off at 7.35PM NZT and will be broadcast in New Zealand LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on SKY Sport.
Investec Rugby Championship
- Australia 13 All Blacks 38. Saturday 18 August, ANZ Stadium, SYDNEY
2. All Blacks 40 Australia 12. Saturday 25 August, 7.35PM, Eden Park, AUCKLAND
3. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 8 September, 7.35PM, Trafalgar Park, NELSON
4. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 15 Sept, 7.35PM, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
5. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 29 September, 7.40PM, Jose Amalfitani Stadium (Estadio Velez Sarsfield), BUENOS AIRES
6. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 6 October, 5.05PM, Loftus Versfeld, PRETORIA