Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

All Blacks: Hansen goes back to future with Savea selection

Julian Savea is one of five changes to the starting XV from the side that beat Australia 22-0 at Eden Park two weeks ago. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Julian Savea is one of five changes to the starting XV from the side that beat Australia 22-0 at Eden Park two weeks ago. Photo / Brett Phibbs

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says his selection of Julian Savea on the left wing against Argentina in Wellington on Saturday night has been made with an eye to the future.

Westpac Stadium is Savea's home ground and is an ideal place for the big wing to make his third test start and erase a few bad memories from his last outing against Ireland in Christchurch in June when he had a torrid time under the high ball.

Now, with his selection ahead of Hosea Gear, he has been given another chance to show the form he displayed in a dream debut against Ireland in Auckland when he scored a hat-trick.

"He's young, he's got size, he's got pace and he's got great skills," Hansen said of Savea.

"So it's about him now putting that on the track and believing in himself and delivering.

"[Gear] has had three games and played pretty tidily but we've got to look to the future as well and this young man beside me [Savea] has got a big future."

Savea, 22, is one of five changes to the starting XV from the side that beat Australia 22-0 at Eden Park two weeks ago.

Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith has recovered from eye surgery to take up his favoured No 13 jumper, while prop Tony Woodcock also returns from injury. Wellington's Victor Vito starts at blindside flanker ahead of Liam Messam and young lock Brodie Retallick comes in for Sam Whitelock.

Hansen said Retallick was worthy of a start ahead of Whitelock, who hadn't performed to the high standards he set last year.

"Well, two reasons why we've made the changes. One, for Brodie and Sam, we think Brodie's playing better than Sam at the moment so we'll give him an opportunity to start and see if he can do that. With Liam and Victor, Liam's had a pretty massive workload this season with the Chiefs going through to the final. So, again, we were happy with Victor's performance the other day so we thought we'd have a look and see how he goes starting."

While Whitelock is hardly out of form, Hansen said his mini-slump was down to a "big workload", which included 20 appearances for the Crusaders and five test starts this year.

Hansen was pleased to have Smith back on deck and the 58-test veteran will reprise his long-time combination with Ma'a Nonu this weekend at a venue where they played so many games together for the Hurricanes between 2004 and 2011.

"He's probably the leading centre in the world at the moment and his leadership, you just can't put a value on it," Hansen said.

"So, having him back is great. The combination of Ma'a and Conrad's been around a long time and is very successful so we are expecting that combination to deliver."

Blues prop Charlie Faumuina is in line to make his test debut after replacing Ben Franks on the bench.

All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Victor Vito, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Charlie Faumuina, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.

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