Argentina v New Zealand: Everything you need to know

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New Zealand take on Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday knowing that victory will be sufficient to wrap up a second successive Rugby Championship title.

The All Blacks have dominated the competition in 2017, sweeping all before them with four straight victories - only one of which did not include a bonus point.

If Argentina are to stop Steve Hansen's side from clinching the trophy in South America they will have to do something they have never done before and beat the reigning world champions.

Hansen had intended to use the trip to rest star playmaker Beauden Barrett, but the fly-half was a late call-up following the birth of Lima Sopoaga's first child.

Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick have been given a break, though, with Scott Barrett and Luke Romano forming a new partnership at lock.

"I think the boys who have stepped into those roles have done a fantastic job and we've got a team who's willing to put everything on the line," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

"Their team is well balanced. They've certainly got a team on paper that is aggressive, they'll attack us from anywhere with their backs.

"We've just got to be on our game. They're physically pretty good up front. If we're just off or not giving them the respect they deserve we could be in for a long day."

Argentina have added experience with the return of Juan Manuel Leguizamon - the number eight set to make his 80th Test appearance for the Pumas - and will be keen for a strong response after a 45-20 defeat in Australia last time out.

HEAD TO HEAD

Argentina: 0
New Zealand: 25
Draw: 1

 

KEY PLAYERS

Agustin Creevy (Argentina): The Pumas will need their captain to be at his best in Buenos Aires. The All Blacks are the only side yet to lose a scrum in the 2017 Rugby Championship, winning all 32 they have participated in. Hooker Creevy will be eager to put an end to that.

Rieko Ioane (New Zealand): The wing made his mark for the All Blacks with a double in the opening Test against the British and Irish Lions and has scored four tries in three appearances in the Rugby Championship. He has beaten more defenders (24) and made more breaks (12) than anyone else in this year's competition.

 

THE LINE-UPS

Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Lucas Noguera Paz, Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lezana, Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

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

 

PRE-MATCH TALK

Daniel Hourcade (Argentina): "Playing the All Blacks always represents a special challenge because it means facing the best team in the world and that motivates you in a very special way."

Steve Hansen (New Zealand): "They're growing their game away from just one or two areas. They're trying to expand how they play and they're starting to get better at it and I think it'll be a really physical encounter."

 

OPTA STATS

- New Zealand are on target to break the record they set last year for points and tries in an edition of the Rugby Championship. They are averaging 6.8 tries and 46.3 points per game, last year's totals averaged out at 43.7 points and 6.3 tries.

- Beauden Barrett has been involved in nine tries in this tournament already (three tries, six assists), more than any other player and two more than Argentina have managed in total as a team.

- Despite playing only 55 minutes, Kane Hames has conceded more penalties than anyone else in this tournament (6).

- The Pumas have lost nine of their last 10 matches, a solitary win against Georgia the only positive result in this run.