DAN Carter is set to reclaim the No 10 jersey when the All Blacks take on Argentina this weekend, while Aaron Smith returns as well, having served his punishment for a breach of team protocol.
Provided he passes a tough training session tomorrow, Carter will have successfully shrugged off the calf strain that saw him miss the wins over Argentia and South Africa earlier in the month.
He will be reunited with Smith, the All Blacks’ top No 9, for the first time since the win over Australia in August.
Smith was dumped to the bench for breaching team curfew for the test against the Springboks, following the win over Argentina.
He made a good impression as a sub, setting up and scoring a crucial late try.
He has been rooming with captain Richie McCaw, with the hope his good influence has been rubbing off.
“When he’s going to sleep, it looks like I’m going to sleep as well,” he told Fairfax NZ.
However he had resisted the temptation to bombard McCaw with questions.
“If there’s something you want to ask you think if you’re in your room you want your own time and that. If his head’s in a book I’m not going to go ‘Oi, stop reading and talk to me’.”
Sam Cane is likely to make his Super Rugby debut off the bench
The openside has been earmarked as a potential successor to McCaw, made even more important by the captain’s decision to take six months off at the end of the year.
Ben Smith moves onto the bench, while Beauden Barrett is replaced by Aaron Cruden.
Victory will see the All Blacks claim the inaugural Rugby Championship.
All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.
Los Pumas: Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Horacio Agulla, Juan Martin Hernandez, Martin Landajo, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Julio Farias Cabello, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Figallo, Eusebio Guinazu, Rodrigo Roncero. Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Marcos Ayerza, Tomas Vallejos, Tomas Leonardi, Nicolas Vergallo, Martin Rodriguez, Juan Imhoff.