New Zealand makes 2 changes for Argentina test

Aaron Cruden will return from injury to start at flyhalf in one of two changes to New Zealand's lineup against Argentina for the Rugby Championship test at Mar del Plata on Saturday.

Cruden suffered a knee injury in New Zealand's first championship match against Australia on Aug. 17 but returns as a replacement for Daniel Carter, who injured his shoulder in the All Blacks' most recent match against South Africa.

Injuries have forced New Zealand to use four starting flyhalves in as many matches in the championship Cruden, Carter, Beauden Barrett and debutant Tom Taylor but haven't disturbed its unbeaten campaign.

Andrew Hore will return at hooker after being rested in the previous game and replaced by Dane Coles.

"We are very happy with where Dane is at and with his performances of late," coach Steve Hansen said. "But like a lot of the young players, we are also mindful of managing their game time as part of their development so have brought in Andrew to start this week."

The return of the 79-test veteran Hore means the New Zealand starting lineup has a combined total of 809 tests and 11 of the players who took part in the equivalent match in Argentina last year which the All Blacks won 54-15.

"This game has huge significance with regard to us having any chance of winning the Rugby Championship," Hansen said.

"As always, we are expecting a huge challenge from Argentina and a very vocal crowd but everyone is looking forward to embracing this challenge."

Hansen resisted the temptation to rest many players given the match next week against South Africa in Johannesburg could be the title decider.

"Within reason we're trying to pick the best team most times we play," he said. "Cruden has earned the right to start just as Dan Carter has when he comes back. Beauden will have to be patient and wait his time off the bench."

Argentina made six changes to its lineup.

Lock Patricio Albacete, playing in France for Toulouse, returns for his 54th test while Eusebio Guinzau comes in at hooker, forcing Agustin Creevy to the bench.

Marcelo Bosch and Santiago Fernandez replace Felipe Contepomi and Gonzalo Tiesi in a double change in midfield while Martin Landajo and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino also return to the starting side.

New Zealand and Argentina have met in 18 tests and the Pumas are still seeking their first win.

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Lineups:

New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Jeremy Thrush, Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.

Argentina: Juan Martin Hernandez, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosio, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo, Juan Manuel Leugizamon, Pablo Materia, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), Patricio Albacete, Julio Farias Cabello, Juan Figallo, Eusebio Guinazu, Marcos Ayerza. Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Lobo, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Mariano Galarza, Benjamin Macome, Tomas Cubelli, Felipe Contepomi, Horacio Agulla.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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