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Hamilton lessons weigh on All Blacks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/09/2016

Dane Coles of New Zealand competes for the ball against Martin Landajo of Argentina during the Rugby Championship match at Waikato Stadium on September 10, 2016 © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Dane Coles of New Zealand competes for the ball against Martin Landajo of Argentina during the Rugby Championship match at Waikato Stadium on September 10, 2016 Their most uncomfortable half of rugby this season is playing on the All Blacks' minds as they brace for a return clash with Argentina.

Having already clinched the Rugby Championship with four bonus point wins from four games, the red-hot New Zealanders have rested some key personnel for the Test in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning (NZT).

However, those changes don't flag any lessening of intent from the world champions, who were shaken by the physical yet creative Pumas when they met in Hamilton this month.

Down 24-19 at halftime, Argentina closed to within two points before being run ragged over the last half-hour in a 57-22 loss.

The Test was a reality check for the likes of hooker Dane Coles and halfback Aaron Smith, two key players whose sub-par outings resulted in being hooked from the field early by coach Steve Hansen.

Both were among New Zealand's best in the subsequent 41-13 win over South Africa but Coles says his efforts of a week earlier, when he was eclipsed by Pumas hooker and skipper Agustin Creevy, still stung.

Smith won't get a chance at redemption, having been rested to give TJ Perenara a starting shot.

Centre Malakai Fekitoa is also handed a week off while lock Sam Whitelock is on the bench and Jerome Kaino injured.

Flanker Liam Squire is making his first start while it is the second for midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.

On the bench, brilliant attack back Damian McKenzie is poised for a debut.

However, Coles is closing down any talk of New Zealand running rampant in a hostile atmosphere against committed opponents.

"We'd love to make it seamless but there's a number of guys getting their chance," he said.

"There might be mistakes, we don't know. A lot of those guys have been in the environment for a long time so not too much will change but as a leadership group we'll have to make sure we're on top of that during the game."

New Zealand need one more try to hold the record for most tries in a Rugby Championship campaign, having notched 24 already.

Hansen says some people may be getting the impression the competition is too easy for his team this year.

He says that only generates a greater desperation from other nations to knock them over, with an improved Pumas side particularly dangerous on their home soil.

"This team aspires to be better every time we play but those that want to beat us will be inspired too," he said.

"In the long run that will only be a good thing for rugby because the standard will only get better. We won't stay on top forever. Other teams will work hard and find a way."

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