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SPORTS | 28-09-2018 10:32

Pumas pick France-based prop Herrera for All Blacks

Argentina relax locals-only policy again by picking Stade Francais prop Ramiro Herrera for Saturday's Test against New Zealand in Buenos Aires.

Argentina have relaxed a locals-only policy again by picking Stade Francais prop Ramiro Herrera for a Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in Buenos Aires Saturday.

Herrera replaces Santiago Medrano, now a substitute, for the Estadio Jose Amalfitani showdown as the Pumas seek a first win over the All Blacks after 27 failed attempts.  

The locals-only rule was eased this year with two other props, Juan Figallo of Saracens and Gaston Cortes of Leicester Tigers, called up separately.

Figallo started both Tests against South Africa in August and Cortes came off the bench in a 46-24 defeat by New Zealand in Nelson this month.

Argentina have not picked Europe-based stars since the 2015 Rugby World Cup to encourage the best players to play for the Buenos Aires-based Jaguares in Super Rugby.   

Officials feared that if there was a mass exodus to French and English clubs, domestic rugby would be severely weakened and the Jaguares uncompetitive internationally.

The second change in personnel to the team that won 23-19 away to Australia this month sees Bautista Ezcurra come into the backline at inside centre for injured winger Ramiro Moyano.

Replacing Moyano involved a reshuffle with Jeronimo de la Fuente moving from inside to outside centre to accommodate Ezcurra and Matias Moroni going from outside centre to the wing.

On the bench, the changes include Tomas Cubelli taking over from veteran Martin Landajo as the back-up scrum-half.

New Zealand ring changes

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made six changes for Saturday's Test against Argentina but insists the revamp is part of his World Cup planning, not a reaction to a shock loss to South Africa.

Hansen said the world champions had learned from the 36-34 defeat to the Springboks, their first Rugby Championship loss in three years, and wanted to implement changes against the Pumas in Buenos Aires this weekend.

He said back-to-back Tests against Argentina and South Africa next week gave world champions a chance to practice for the sudden-death rounds of the World Cup in Japan next year.

"From a selection point of view, we've always seen these next two Test matches as a great opportunity to replicate the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup," he said. "We'll have to beat quality teams back-to-back if we are to keep advancing in the tournament."

Jordie Barrett, who gave away an intercept try against the Boks, is the highest-profile casualty as Ben Smith returns to fullback, making room for Waisake Naholo's return on the wing.

Sonny Bill Williams makes his first start after an injury lay-off, relegating Anton Lienert-Brown to the bench, while Beauden Barrett retains his spot at fly-half despite facing criticism over his role in the loss.

Aaron Smith also moves onto the bench as TJ Perenara comes in at half-back to earn his 50th cap.

In the forwards, Luke Whitelock and Shannon Frizell replace the injured Kieran Read and Liam Squire, with Ofa Tu'ungafasi replacing the rested Owen Franks.

Prop Angus Ta'avao has a chance to make his debut after the 28-year-old was named in the replacements following an injury to Joe Moody.

Livewire back Damian McKenzie was a late withdrawal from the squad after returning to New Zealand due to a family bereavement.

The teams

Argentina

15-1: Emiliano Boffelli; Bautista Delguy, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Ezcurra, Matias Moroni; Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera; Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti; Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy (capt), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Replacements: Julian Montoya, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Cubelli, Matias Orlando, Sebastian Cancelliere

Coach: Mario Ledesma.

New Zealand

15-1: Ben Smith; Waisake Naholo, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell; Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock (capt); Ofa Tu'ungafasi , Codie Taylor, Karl Tu'inukuafe.

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Tim Perry, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

Coach: Steve Hansen.

- AFP

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