Five changes to All Blacks for Pumas clash
Auckland (Fairfax NZ News) - Wellington pair Julian Savea and Victor Vito, and lock Brodie Retallick, have been recalled for Saturday night's test against Argentina.
The trio, along with the fit-again Tony Woodcock and Conrad Smith, are among the changes made for the Westpac Stadium test as the All Blacks seek their third successive Rugby Championship win. And if reserve prop Charlie Faumuina, preferred ahead of Ben Franks, takes the field he will make his test debut.
Despite the All Blacks' 22-0 win against the Wallabies on August 25 being sullied by numerous errors, coach Steve Hansen resisted a desire to maintain combinations in the hope it improves their performance.
Prop Woodcock and midfielder Smith were certain to return after recovering from respective rib and eye injuries. Wyatt Crockett departs the front row, while Smith returns to the midfield after Sonny Bill Williams' exit.
The remaining three selections were not so predictable.
Savea replaces left wing Hosea Gear, blindside flanker Vito takes over from Liam Messam and lock Retallick is preferred ahead of Sam Whitelock.
Vito and Savea have not started since the first and second tests against Ireland in June; the former because of a knee injury, while the latter was replaced by Gear for the third test in Hamilton.
Messam's omission is the most surprising. While Gear struggled to make an impact in the recent Bledisloe Cup match and Whitelock is yet to recapture last year's form, Messam has been a consistent performer.