‘Dropped’ after four tries: All Blacks make sweeping changes
BLEDISLOE Cup star Beauden Barrett has made way for Richie Mo'unga in a much changed All Blacks team to face Argentina in Nelson.
Coach Steve Hansen has made seven switches to the starting team that romped past Australia 40-12 in the second round of the Rugby Championship in Auckland two weeks ago.
The most glaring omission is brilliant five-eighth Barrett, who scored four tries at Eden Park in a trans-Tasman Test record haul of 30 points.
Hansen wants to assess the depth of his squad on Saturday, leaving out some of his most proven performers such as Barrett, halfback Aaron Smith, lock Sam Whitelock and flanker Sam Cane.
Mo'unga has been a pivotal figure in the Crusaders' successive Super Rugby titles but has had his promotion blocked by Barrett and the versatile Damian McKenzie.
He gets his first start on Saturday, outside TJ Perenara, who usurps Smith for the first time in a year.
Jordie Barrett makes way in the back three, with Ben Smith shifted to fullback and injury-prone Nehe Milner-Skudder injected on the wing for his first start in nearly a year.
Prop Karl Tu'inukuafe gets a first Test start in place of the injured Joe Moody while veteran Whitelock makes way for Scott Barrett.
Ardie Savea and rookie Shannon Frizell both get rare chances on either side of the scrum.
A Test debut awaits halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who is on the bench.
Hansen will be a keen observer of his fringe candidates.
"While we've made a number of changes from our last outing, this is not a reflection on Argentina but rather a desire by us to grow the experience and depth of our squad," he said.
"Secondary to that, we also know that if we don't use the whole squad across a long season, we'll run out of steam later in the year.
ALL BLACKS: Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Waisake Naholo, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu'inukuafe
Reserves: Nathan Harris, Tim Perry, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown