All Blacks change tack for away Tests

Sep 18, 2017 - 12:52 AM If insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, then the All Blacks appear keen to mix things up for the second half of this year's Test campaign.

Head coach Steve Hansen has selected a slimmed-down squad of 28 for his side's upcoming Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.

Six key players will be rested for the fixture - Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Ryan Crotty, Beauden Barrett and locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

They will rejoin the squad a week later in Cape Town for a rematch with the Springboks, who were obliterated 57-0 on Saturday.

Hansen said the six players would slot in for another six players who would not travel from Buenos Aires to Cape Town.

They were likely to be the most battle-hardened among Hansen's ranks after playing through a gruelling Super Rugby and Test campaign - suggesting the likes of Kieran Read and Aaron Smith may not travel across the Atlantic.

The inference of Hansen's selection is clear.

Having crawled over the line in last year's end-of-year Test tour, Hansen is keen to keep energy levels among his top players as high as possible.

That would guarantee high levels of performance throughout this year's tour, taking in Tests against France, Scotland and Warren Gatland's Wales.

"We're just trying to think outside the box - keep doing what you always do, you keep getting what you always get," Hansen said.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us going to Argentina, because they're a good side and we need to play well to perform there, but we're confident the group we're taking there should be able to do the job."

Four players have been recalled to the 28-man squad, which leaves for Buenos Aires on Friday - Patrick Tuipulotu, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Matt Todd and Jerome Kaino.

Veteran blindside Kaino returns after taking time away to deal with personal matters, while specialist jackler Todd is back from a wrist injury.

Toomaga-Allen, if selected, would earn just his second Test cap.

Stalwart fullback-cum-winger Israel Dagg will not join them, however, with his Test campaign all but over due to a niggling knee issue.

Already missing for the rest of 2017 with injury are original Rugby Championship squad members Jordie Barrett, Owen Franks and Joe Moody, as well as vice-captain Ben Smith, who is currently on sabbatical.

ALL BLACKS: Damian McKenzie, David Havili, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, Jerome Kaino, Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris.

Source: AAP

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