Woodcock to make 100th test start

Woodcock to make 100th test start

It’s another hugely experienced All Blacks team for the Investec Rugby Championship opener against Argentina this Friday, with prop and Blues man Tony Woodcock to make his 100th Test start in his outstanding career.

Other Blues men joining Tony at AMI Stadium, Christchurch on Friday 17 July are Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and Charles Piutau – all of whom will be starting in this Friday’s test.

The matchday 23 boasts 1,068 caps worth of experience and an average age of 28 years.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We are very much looking forward to our Friday night Test against an improving Argentinian team. There has been a lot of talk about the Rugby World Cup and so forth, but this Test match is all about the here and now.

“It’s important that we get away to a really good start in the Investec Rugby Championship as we will only be playing each other once this year and we only have this one home game. We will need to get points early if we are going to give ourselves a chance of winning the Championship.

“We have a lot of respect for Argentina and what they bring and understand that we will have to improve our game quite considerably from our Samoan effort.

“With that in mind, the selectors did not want to make too many changes. It’s a fine balancing act between getting game time for those who need it, giving others the rest they may need, and giving ourselves an opportunity to see players and combinations in the heat of the Test battle so we can make good selections going forward.”

“We know the Argentinians will be big and fast and bring a physicality to the contest. But we are also expecting them to bring some panache through their backs as we have detected a greater desire from them to involve their whole team in their game.

Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and prop Joe Moody have again been released to play for the Maori All Blacks and Cory Jane for the New Zealand Barbarians in the match between the two sides in Auckland on Saturday.

The All Blacks and Argentina have played each other 20 times with the All Blacks winning the last Test 34-13 in La Plata, Argentina, in last year’s Investec Rugby Championship.

The team is:
1. Tony Woodcock (111)
2. Keven Mealamu (124)
3. Owen Franks (68)
4. Luke Romano (18)
5. Brodie Retallick (37)
6. Jerome Kaino (57)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (138)
8. Kieran Read (73)
9. TJ Perenara (11)
10. Daniel Carter (103)
11. Charles Piutau (15)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (24)
13. Ma’a Nonu (94)
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Israel Dagg (47)

Reserves:

16. Codie Taylor
17. Wyatt Crockett (37)
18. Nepo Laulala (1)
19. Jeremy Thrush (11)
20. Liam Messam (40)
21. Andy Ellis (27)
22. Colin Slade (18)
23. Ryan Crotty (14)