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Saili starts for All Blacks

04th September 2013 18:40

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Francis Saili of the All Blacks training pre pumas

Test debut: Francis Saili

Francis Saili and Dan Carter have been named in New Zealand's starting XV for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Hamilton.

22-year-old Saili will make his Test debut - replacing Ma'a Nonu at inside centre - in an All Blacks side featuring three changes from the team that secured the Bledisloe Cup in Wellington two weeks ago.

Carter returns from injury at fly-half for his 96th Test in place of the injured Tom Taylor while tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina replaces Owen Franks.

Coach Steve Hansen has named a starting side that boasts 663 Test caps, including 118 for captain Richie McCaw, who is poised to equal former Wallabies scrum-half George Gregan's record for the most Rugby Championship/Tri Nations appearances, with 48.

Saili earns a long-awaited start in place of veteran Nonu, who has played on a painful ankle in recent Tests.

"With Ma'a's ongoing niggly ankle we have taken the opportunity to rest him and introduce Francis to international rugby," said Hansen.

"We have complete faith in his ability to do the job.

"He is a very exciting, young player who has a multi-talented skillset that should suit test rugby."

Reserve pivot Beauden Barrett has also recovered from a calf strain and takes his place on the bench.

Franks suffered a groin injury in Wellington which will deprive him of a 50th Test cap this week and is replaced by older brother Ben.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements:16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Assessor: Lyndon Bray

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