A combined Los Pumas and All Blacks XV ahead of the Mendoza Test

Dylan Coetzee
Rugby Championship: Split with Argentina and New Zealand

The truncated 2023 Rugby Championship arrives this weekend with an intriguing selection of games for fans to feast their eyes on.

The second of the two clashes sees the All Blacks travel to Argentina for the first time since 2019 for a Test in Mendoza.

With Los Pumas and the All Blacks having named their line-ups, Planet Rugby has put together a combined XV ahead of the clash.

Combined XV

15 Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina): The star outside back oozes class, particularly in the colours of his beloved country. Effective whether on the wing or at full-back, Boffelli is a sound operator in the backfield with quality decision-making. Of course, his true value is in his sharpshooting with a typically brilliant goal-kicking record for his country. Beauden Barrett may have more X-factor but the consistency of the Argentine gets our vote.

14 Bautista Delguy (Argentina): It was very tempting to put the red-hot Emoni Narawa in our side but the Argentine wing’s Test experience trumps the All Black debutant. Make no mistake Delguy is a lethal runner with an eye for the try-line. His time on the sevens circuit built him an all-around skill-set. He will be a threat this weekend in Mendoza in what looks to be an exciting Argentina back-three.

13 Rieko Ioane (New Zealand): A vastly experienced centre considering his age with over 50 caps at the age of 26. He is blisteringly quick and is a key star in the All Blacks set-up. Ioane is never too far from the good in the New Zealand attacking shape and he will be looking to start off his Test season with a bang. On his day he is up there with the best in the world.

12 Jordie Barrett (New Zealand): The versatile All Black has shown promise in the 12 shirt but is yet to well and truly come into his own in the position. There is no doubting his skill-set with the ability to kick and pass as well as everything in between. His big frame allows him to carry well and makes him an intriguing ball-playing 12 for the All Blacks to use to leverage their attack.

11 Mateo Carreras (Argentina): Whilst Caleb Clarke is a top-quality winger who is as robust as they come, we have opted for the elusive Puma whose stock has risen dramatically on the back of a quality season in the Premiership. Carreras’ running ability offers boatloads of X-factor and the fact that he can make something from nothing will be lingering in the minds of the All Black defenders.

10 Damian McKenzie (New Zealand): Fair play to head coach Ian Foster for rewarding the Chief’s sparkling form with a start. The smiling assassin has been outstanding this year, showing maturity in his game whilst tearing defences to shreds at will. It is a golden opportunity to challenge the incumbent Richie Mo’unga and ‘D-Mac’ will be itching to give his coach a selection headache.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand): The Rolls Royce of scrum-halves. Smith has been around the block several times and has shown his class throughout. Easily up there with the best-ever passers of a rugby ball, he will be eager to make the most of last season in the black jersey. Make no mistake, the veteran is still absolutely world-class and he will show that again.

Powerful pack

8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand): The loose forward has been a standout in a wobbly All Blacks side. The Hurricane is extremely consistent and has been one of the best in the world for years now. With such a complete skill-set he is a huge asset for any team whether he is carrying the ball up hard, working the breakdown or taking a line-out. Savea will be key this weekend and throughout 2023 for the All Blacks.

7 Sam Cane (New Zealand): The All Blacks skipper has received a heap of criticism this World Cup cycle and to his credit has taken it in his stride. In response, he has put his head down and in Super Rugby Pacific this season he has underlined his quality. It is the mark of a great character who will be vital for New Zealand this weekend.

6 Pablo Matera (Argentina): Los Pumas play left and right flanks meaning Matera is not strictly a blindside, however, because of his outrageous quality and massive importance to his country he earns selection. The flank is world-class with the kind of dog mentality that can carry a team on his back. This game will be a bit more personal for him after having spent a season with the Crusaders in 2022. Expect a big effort from the superstar.

5 Tomas Lavanini (Argentina): The second-row has become infamous for his poor discipline and the sheer number of cards he receives. Outside of that he is a physical monster on the field and is key for his side. In the line-out he is clean, in the carry he is strong and on defence he is solid. If he can keep himself on the field he is a big player for Argentina. Josh Lord’s inexperience played against his selection in our side.

4 Scott Barrett (New Zealand): The only forward of the Barrett family has become some player over the last few seasons as his leadership abilities have transcended his influence. The lock is up there with the hardest workers in the game and shows that consistently. His tackle count is always high, his line-out work is always sharp and he is no slouch with ball in hand either. He will play a big role for the All Blacks not only this year but for seasons to come.

3 Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand): Powerful immediately comes to mind for a player that has sharpened up his game. Lomax is a fantastic scrummager and a mobile prop, as required in the All Blacks ranks. The scrum is a crucial facet of the game against Los Pumas and he has what it takes to step up.

2 Julian Montoya (Argentina): Dane Coles is world-class but Montoya bleeds the blue and white of Argentina and is proud to show it off whenever he can. The hooker is master of the jackal which will be crucial in stopping what the All Blacks do. He also has strength in the contact point, often making good metres in contact. His leadership for Los Pumas has been sensational and his troops are looking to him for inspiration that he provides in heaps.

1 Ethan de Groot (New Zealand): A changed man after being dropped last year for his lack of fitness and work-rate. The loosehead clearly took that to heart and has worked exceptionally hard to put himself in a great position within the All Blacks squad. It is fantastic to see a player bounce back in the way that he has and he will know a big scrummaging performance is required this weekend.

READ MORE: Rugby Championship preview: All Blacks’ quality to shine through against Argentina