Crotty returns for Pumas clash

Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty has been recalled to the All Blacks starting XV against Argentina after missing the side’s second Bledisloe Test with concussion.

Crotty, 27, started and scored the opening try in the world champions’ 42-8 demolition of the Wallabies in Sydney before suffering a head knock and being replaced at half time.

The knock kept him out of his side’s Bledisloe-clinching win in Wellington a week later, with young gun Anton Lienert-Brown making his debut in Crotty’s absence.

The 21-year-old Lienert-Brown will start in Hamilton from the bench.

Head coach Steve Hansen has otherwise named an unchanged starting XV for the Rugby Championship match against Los Pumas, with only two other tweaks to his bench.

Codie Taylor has been named as replacement hooker after suffering concussion just minutes into the first Bledisloe in Sydney, while Luke Romano will provide cover at lock.

Hansen said he was aiming for squad consistency in the face of a robust Pumas outfit.

The loose forward trio of Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane and skipper Kieran Read has been left intact, while star man Beauden Barrett will again wear the No.10 jersey.

At outside back, Hurricanes flyer Julian Savea has retained his position in the run-on squad with Israel Dagg on the opposite flank and Ben Smith at fullback.

Up front, hooker Dane Coles will be sandwiched between props Joe Moody and Owen Franks.

Hansen said his side had spent much of the week getting reconnected and honing their mental approach to Saturday’s game.

“Argentina will bring their traditional physicality up front and flair in the backs, and we will have to be ready for whatever they throw at us,” Hansen said.

“We’ll need to be right on top of our game, both mentally and physically, and play the game with real accuracy, if we are to prevail.” The All Blacks have never lost to Argentina, winning on 21 occasions and drawing once.

The two sides last played in the 2015 World Cup, where New Zealand emerged 26-16 victors.

ALL BLACKS: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. RESERVES: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Luke Romano, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Anton Lienert-Brown.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!