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All Blacks ready for Pumas battle

New Zealand will guarantee a third straight Rugby Championship title if they post a bonus-point victory over Argentina at Estadio Unico Ciudad de La Plata on Saturday.

The All Blacks' build up to the penultimate round of the competition has been overshadowed by the two-game suspension of Aaron Cruden for missing his flight to Argentina following a night out drinking.

Cruden has established himself as the starting fly-half in the injury-enforced absence of Dan Carter, but his indiscretion gives Beauden Barrett the chance to press his claim.

The selection of Barrett is one of five changes to the side that defeated South Africa 14-10 at Westpac Stadium with centre Malakai Fekitoa, hooker Keven Mealamu, lock Sam Whitelock and back row Jerome Kaino also starting.

Captain Richie McCaw will win his 133rd cap for the All Blacks, equalling the record set by Colin Meads.

"McCaw is a special creature and he's played a huge part in the All Blacks in his time since he started in 2001," New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said.

"I don't think he's finished yet, he's still got a few more to add too, hopefully. Touch wood he doesn't get injured.

"He's playing really well. He's enjoying it, which is important, and he's leading well."

Argentina have made three changes following their 32-25 loss to Australia with scrum-half Tomas Cubelli, lock Tomas Lavanini and back row Juan Manuel Leguizamon starting.


From Belfast Telegraph