Milner-Skudder to make long-awaited All Blacks return against Pumas

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Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his first New Zealand appearance in almost two years, while Vaea Fifita has been handed a maiden start for the Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.

In a team noting eight changes from their thrilling 35-29 Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia in round two, the All Blacks welcome back Milner-Skudder for the clash at Yarrow Stadium.

Milner-Skudder, named on the left wing, last played in the famous All Blacks jersey in the 2015 World Cup final, a string of injuries halting his international career.

Fifita will wear the number six jersey having made one substitute appearance so far, while Luke Romano is at second row for his first start this year.

Head coach Steve Hansen, whose side are two from two having beaten Australia twice, says Saturday's contest is one of opportunity for his side.

"This Test match is all about us taking opportunities. It's an opportunity for our players to grow individually and collectively as a team, not only in our preparation throughout the week, but in our performance on Saturday," he said.

"We've taken some key learnings from our first two Tests against Australia and now it's an opportunity to take those learnings into a Test match against an old foe who we know pretty well now. 

"Argentina are a dynamic, physical team who are growing their style of game. They are a proud people as well so they'll be desperate [after their losses against South Africa] so we'll have to be ready for that challenge.

"We've had a great build up here in New Plymouth, it's a real rugby city and the people have made us feel really welcome, so we're all looking forward to Saturday."

 

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Brodie Retallick, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, Ngani Laumape