Argentina v New Zealand - Rugby Championship match preview

Last Updated: 29/09/13 7:34am

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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen insists his side will face a huge challenge against Argentina at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata despite the hosts having yet to win in this season's Rugby Championship.

The Pumas have endured a miserable campaign so far, having been thumped in their opening match against South Africa and gone on to lose all four games so far.

There have been signs of improvement, though, with Argentina only just denied by Australia last time out.

And Hansen is refusing to take anything for granted as he looks to guide the All Blacks a step closer to the title.

"This is a huge challenge for us," said Hansen ahead of the match that will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 HD..

"It will be the defining moment of the Rugby Championship this year. If we are to have a chance of retaining the title, we have got to win this game. We must try to win it well."

The All Blacks registered a 54-15 victory at the same venue 12 months ago, however Hansen is expecting the match to be a lot closer this time around.

"We caught them unawares last year and we will not enjoy that luxury Saturday," he said.

"Argentina are a better side this year than last, although I don't think they have found the game they want to play yet.

Rugby Championship preview

"We must pay them a huge amount of respect and the ideal way to do that is to prepare the best we possibly can."


Hansen has made two changes to his line-up for the trip, with Aaron Cruden and Andrew Hore coming into the starting XV.

The Pumas, on the other hand, have made six changes as they seek a first-ever win on the competition.

Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Martin Landajo, Eusebio Guinazu and Patricio Albacete all start, with Horacio Agulla, Felipe Contepomi, Tomas Cubelli and Agustin Creevy dropping to the bench and Gonzalo Tiesi and Manuel Carizza omitted completely.

And despite their lack of a win so far, coach Santiago Phelan heads into the game pleased with the way his side have adapted.

"We are going from low to high this season, improving game by game," said Phelan.

"The pressure of facing the top three teams in the world is extreme, but we are slowly but surely adapting to the challenge.

"New Zealand are a complete team - the best in the world. They play with such speed and intensity. We have prepared well and hope for the best."

Argentina v New Zealand will be live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 11.30pm or you can watch all the action unfold with a 24-hour Sky Sports Day Pass from NOW TV. For more information visit click here

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