Naholo to make AB debut v Pumas

Date published: July 14 2015

Waisake Naholo will make his All Black debut against Argentina in the opening game of the 2015 Rugby Championship in Christchurch.

Steve Hansen has named an intriguing side bringing in three players who featured in the Super Rugby final, with Ma'a Nonu and TJ Perenara also starting.

However he has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes, with a number of Hurricanes and Highlanders players kept back for another week.

Naholo came out of nowhere to end up as Super Rugby's top try-scorer, as he helped the Highlanders to their maiden title, and will start on the right wing, in a back three that also features Israel Dagg and Charles Piutau.

Nonu will start at outside centre alongside Sonny Bill Williams, while Dan Carter and Perenara are paired up in the half-backs.

It's a familiar look up front, with Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino making up the back row, and Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano combining at lock.

Keven Mealamu gets the nod at hooker, with Codie Taylor set for his Test debut off the bench, while Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks round out the starting side.

"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," Hansen said.

"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."

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Date: Friday, 17th July
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT, 17:35 AEST, 04:35 ART, 09:35 SAST)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)