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Carter closing in on Test ton

Thu, 27 Sep 2012 11:31
Dan-carter-pass-630 Steve-hansen-toasts-630 Dan-carter-points-630

Argentina have shown in the tournament just how good they are

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First-choice flyhalf Dan Carter has been cleared to start in his 90th Test, when New Zealand play Argentina in a Rugby Championship match at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata on Saturday.

Carter, who returns to the starting XV after missing the last two internationals with calf injury, will be joined by prop Tony Woodcock on the 90-cap mark as both close in on their international centuries.

Aaron Cruden, who started against the Springboks (in Dunedin) and Pumas (in Wellington) in the last two rounds, drops down to the bench to make way for Carter's return.

In another change Aaron Smith is at scrumhalf, with Piri Weepu on the bench.

There is just one change to the forwards bench, with loose forward Sam Cane making his first matchday 22 appearance in the Rugby Championship.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said they have "huge respect" for the Pumas, despite the Kiwis' unbeaten run this year.

"They [Argentina] have shown in the tournament just how good they are, and we are expecting even more from them this weekend as they are playing at home in front of their passionate fans," Hansen said.

"The team has really enjoyed the build-up in Buenos Aires and the culture that the country has to offer, but we know that it will be down to business on Saturday and the team are excited by that challenge," he added.

The All Blacks have played Argentina in 15 Tests since 1985, with the last Test in Wellington earlier this month.

The All Blacks have won 14 times with a 21-all draw in 1985.

Richie McCaw will play in his 44th Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship game - a record for a New Zealand player.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.

Date: Saturday, September 29
Venue: Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata
Kick-off: 20.10 (23.10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Francisco Pastrana

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