Emoni Narawa handed debut as All Blacks name team to face Argentina

Emoni Narawa handed debut as All Blacks name team to face Argentina

The All Blacks have named Damian McKenzie at flyhalf and handed Chiefs winger Emoni Narawa his Test debut for their Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.

McKenzie is preferred over Richie Mo'unga for their opening game of the season with Beauden Barrett lining up at full-back for the meeting in Mendoza.

The Chiefs playmaker partners up with veteran Aaron Smith in the half-backs while Mo'unga takes a spot on the replacements bench for the Pumas clash.

Outside the halves, Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane start in a settled centre combination, with Braydon Ennor offering back-up on the bench this weekend.

Debutant Narawa is joined in the back three by Caleb Clarke and the aforementioned Barrett, with the Chiefs finisher handed a deserved first Test run-out.

Up front the All Blacks have gone with Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax as props either side of experienced hooker Dane Coles, who gets the nod to start.

Super Rugby Pacific finalists Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are absent from the matchday 23, with Scott Barrett and Josh Lord handed starting spots.

Completing the starting team is number eight Ardie Savea, who will be flanked by Shannon Frizell and captain Sam Cane for New Zealand's opening fixture.

Other bench options available to All Blacks coach Ian Foster on Saturday are Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa'i and Dalton Papali'i.

"We have taken the need to build combinations in a vital year and balanced it with the need to manage the squad after Super Rugby," Foster said of his XV.

"This is obviously a massive year and we are really confident in the way that we have been building. We have had a short build-up but an effective one."

Saturday will mark the first-ever All Blacks Test in Mendoza, with all 42,500 tickets sold two months prior to kick-off. The city at the foot of the Andes has hosted the All Blacks for two midweek tour fixtures in 1976 and 1991. This year's visit was initially scheduled for 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The last time the two teams met in Argentina, the All Blacks won 20-16 in Buenos Aires.

"We have loved our time here in Mendoza for what will be a tremendous challenge," added Foster.

"We've enjoyed seeing how excited everyone is for this weekend's game and can't wait to get stuck into our work."

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Lord, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ethan de Groot

Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu™ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa™i, 20 Dalton Papali™i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mo™unga, 23 Braydon Ennor