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New Zealand name strong line-up for Rugby World Cup opener

New Zealand have named the most experienced starting XV in Test history for the opening match of their World Cup defence against Argentina at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The All Blacks will field 1,013 caps, a total that breaks the 1,000 mark for the first time, to eclipse their own milestone of 966 which they set in August for the 41-13 Bledisloe Cup triumph over Australia.

Captain Richie McCaw extends his own record to a 143rd international appearance and alongside fly-half Dan Carter will be appearing in a fourth World Cup, a first for a player from New Zealand.

It is the All Blacks' most powerful line-up that will face Argentina, with number eight Kieran Read, scrum-half Aaron Smith, wing Julian Savea and centre Ma'a Nonu all present.

"We've selected what we believe is a very strong team," head coach Steve Hansen said.

"We have the utmost respect for Argentina who we know a lot more about now because of their involvement in the Rugby Championship. But it also means they know a lot more about us.

"We will need to be at our very best to get our tournament away to a good start. We've had a great preparation and there will be no excuses for not performing on Sunday."

Team: B Smith; N Milner-Skudder, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, D Coles, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Replacements: K Mealamu, W Crockett, C Faumuina, V Vito, S Cane, TJ Perenara, B Barrett, S B Williams.


From Belfast Telegraph