Rotation was inevitable in Argentina but the All Blacks have not been as radical as many expected.

Given the All Blacks made seven starting changes last time they played the Pumas, you could even suggest they have been a tad conservative in some areas.

The backline in particular that lines up in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning (NZT) has a formidable look to it.

Other than perhaps Waisake Naholo, who makes his first appearance for the All Blacks in almost three months on the right wing, this is Steve Hansen's strongest available back division.


Even then there is probably not a lot between Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder at present.

With the right platform, and Rieko Ioane lurking on the other edge, this backline has plenty of points in it.

After leaving five senior players in New Zealand - four of them from the starting pack and Ryan Crotty the other - significant change was always coming. But Hansen has been careful to respect the Pumas in their backyard and ensure his team has enough experience in key decision-making roles.

"The All Blacks jersey is not something you give away," Hansen said. "This team merits the best team we can pick with the people we have available under the circumstances so that's what we've done."

Thus Hansen has resisted the urge to hand Ngani Laumape and rookie Crusaders fullback David Havili starts. Both have to wait for their introductions from the bench. Sonny Bill Williams has again been favoured at second five-eighth, while Damian McKenzie gets his fifth successive crack at the back.

As the only other natural first-five option, McKenzie will also be expected to cover Beauden Barrett.

"There's not too many of our guys we chuck in the deep with a start. Usually it's easier for them to come off the bench and it's the same with David."

With Lima Sopoaga staying home for the birth of his first child, Hansen has stuck with his first-choice halves pairing. There is no room for Tawera Kerr-Barlow with TJ Perenara deputising Aaron Smith as usual.

"It's more a reflection that we want our leaders on the park. We've left a few home so we want the best people we can get out there."

With no Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane or Liam Squire the pack appears much greener than the backline.

Vaea Fifita gets a chance to repeat his stunning efforts against the Pumas in New Plymouth with his second start at blindside, though he has been asked to do more of the tight work this time around.

Fifita's inclusion means Jerome Kaino's return does not stretch to the match-day squad and increases the notion that time may be running out for the 81 test veteran to prove his worth.

"He's the same as everybody else. He's got to earn the right to play in the jersey. Squire and Vaea took the opportunity to play well in his absence and he'll have to wait his turn too."

As has been the case previously, namely against the Springboks in Durban last year, Matt Todd has been brought in from outside the squad to start at openside. It's the same theory used in regards to loosehead props Kane Hames and Wyatt Crockett where the All Blacks feel Todd is better starting; Ardie Savea more suited to adding impact off the bench.

Luke Romano, widely praised for his off-field work in devising a strategy to pick apart the Boks' lineout, is paired with Crusaders team-mate Scott Barrett in the second-row, with Patrick Tuipulotu set for his first test of 2017 after a turbulent season.

On the whole, with powerful contributions to come from the bench, Hansen can hardly be accused of taking the Pumas lightly.

All Blacks team:

Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Matt Todd, Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Kane Hames

Reserves: Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, David Havili