SYDNEY (Reuters) -Lock Brodie Retallick will captain New Zealand for the first time in the absence of Ardie Savea when the All Blacks take on Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Australia’s Gold Coast on Sunday.
Loose forward Savea suffered a head knock in the 38-21 defeat of the Wallabies in Perth last weekend and is replaced at the back of the scrum by Luke Jacobson.
Asafo Aumua will make his first test start at hooker in place of Codie Taylor, who also suffered a head knock against the Wallabies, while prop Joe Moody was named on the bench for his first runout of the year after recovering from foot surgery.
Coach Ian Foster said both Savea and Taylor had passed concussion protocols and could have played but he had erred on the side of caution given the rest of the squad was in good shape after the first of five tests in successive weeks.
“It’s been nice to have the luxury of being able to put them in the grandstand this week and in the next two or three weeks have a really energetic squad,” he told reporters from Perth on Friday.
Foster said he was delighted to award Retallick the captaincy and was impressed with how the 2014 World Player of the Year had got back to his best form so quickly after an 18-month sabbatical in Japan.
“It’s a chance for Brodie to have a different little extra task,” said the coach.
“He’s back, he’s confident, he’s got a smile on his face. He’s really comfortable in his role and the boys want to follow him.”
In other changes, scrumhalf TJ Perenara was promoted from the bench to partner Beauden Barrett in the halves, while Sevu Reece and George Bridge will start on the wings in place of Will Jordan and Rieko Ioane.
Fullback Jordie Barrett retained his place in the back three after successfully appealing against the red card he was shown against Australia.
Argentina’s Pumas earned their first ever win against New Zealand last season in the annual southern hemisphere test championship.
Team: 15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Sevu Reece, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-David Havili, 11-George Bridge, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Luke Jacobson, 7-Dalton Papalii, 6-Akira Ioane, 5-Scott Barrett, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Nepo Laulala, 2-Asafo Aumua, 1-Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17-Joe Moody, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Tupou Vaa’i, 20-Ethan Blackadder, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-Rieko Ioane
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)