The high flying All Blacks take on the improving Argentina in Nelson’, while in Brisbane the desperate Wallabies face the just as desperate Springboks
It’s the third round of the Rugby Championship as the high flying All Blacks take on the improving Argentina in Nelson’s first ever Test match, while in Brisbane the desperate Wallabies (without David Pocock) face the just as desperate Springboks, who lost to the Pumas last time out.
We picked out four players to keep your eyes on:
With Beauden Barrett rested for the Pumas clash, the Crusaders No10 gets his first start for the All Blacks. Mo’unga’s form in Super Rugby, where he guided the Saders to their second straight title, was so impressive that there were calls for him to replace Barrett in the starting line-up. But BB’s four tries against the Wallabies put an end to that. In other team news Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder returns for his first Test since October last year and scrumhalf Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is set to make his Test debut off the bench.
In what was a break-through year for the Jaguares in Super Rugby, Boffelli led the way in the thrilling style that took the Argentinian side all the way to the playoffs for the first time in their history. The Rosario-born 23-year-old built on an impressive second season in 2017 to firmly establish himself as one of the most exciting runners in the southern hemisphere scoring 10 tries, making 28 clean breaks and beating no less than 65 defenders. He knows the way to the try-line in Tests as well scoring in his first three appearances for the Pumas.
In Malcolm Marx’s absence in the June series against England, Mbonambi delivered two magnificent performances. “In the two Tests we won in June, Bongi really showed his quality,” Bok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said. “We really want to get to that level of competition in our squad. I like the competition that’s building between Malcolm and Bongi, and it’s exciting to now also work with a player like Akker [van der Merwe], who is a bit different to the two of them and can add a different spice.” The Stormers No2 gets his chance against the Wallabies.
The Leicester midfielder is certainly clocking up the air miles. After coming off the bench in both Bledisloe Cup losses, the former Brumbies star flew back to the UK where he played 66 minutes of the Tigers 40-6 thrashing by Exeter in the opening game of the Premiership season. He then jumped back on another plane to head to Brisbane to prepare for Saturday’s clash with South Africa, where he finds himself in the starting line-up. Toomua has also been given the kicking duties as he tries to build a combination with new No10 Kurtley Beale. This is only the third time these two have started a Test at 10-12 – the other two coming way back in August 2014 when the Wallabies drew with the All Blacks in Sydney then lost to them in Auckland.