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Team tweaks on cards for All Blacks jaunt

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/09/2016 Angelo Risso

Kieran Read of New Zealand looks on during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks on September 10. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Kieran Read of New Zealand looks on during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks on September 10. Nine weeks, seven Tests, five continents and two trips around the world.

All in a day's work for one very good rugby squad.

The All Blacks' global odyssey begins on Friday when the world champions take their talents to Argentina for their Rugby Championship clash in Buenos Aires.

The 12-hour trip to the Argentinian capital will be followed by a gruelling 23-hour voyage to Durban, where the All Blacks will tussle with South Africa.

They'll then return to the Shaky Isles for their Bledisloe Cup dead rubber with the Wallabies before a northern tour taking in Chicago, Rome, Dublin and Paris.

A strenuous travel load is nothing new to the All Blacks, whose players are battle-hardened by travel to South Africa, Japan and Argentina for Super Rugby.

But head coach Steve Hansen admitted a little tweaking to his squad would be necessary to keep things fresh.

"We're learning all the time about what we have to do and clearly, we can't ask the same guys to front up each week," Hansen told reporters at Auckland Airport.

"It's the time of the year where we have to start using the group."

Hansen will be missing two of his first-choice loose forwards next Saturday with openside Sam Cane and blindside Jerome Kaino both injured.

The third member of that loose forward trio, skipper Kieran Read, said it was the perfect opportunity for players such as Liam Squire and Elliot Dixon to shine.

Better defence around the breakdown would be key against a Pumas outfit that caused problems down the middle of the field in Hamilton two weeks ago.

Keeping a festive Argentinian crowd subdued with early tries would also be handy.

"They probably got a bit of a roll-on and were just able to crawl forward that extra two or three metres, stopping us from getting set," the No.8 said.

"We'll be prepared, because they certainly got some good yards."

Hansen wasn't about to let his choice for No.6 in Buenos Aires slip but said they'd play a key role in nullifying the Pumas' renowned physicality.

He was glad his efforts to build squad depth were paying dividends.

"The new guys have been around the squad for quite some time and are all ready to take their opportunity," Hansen said.

"It's something we've worked hard on from day one in 2012, to make sure that when they come in, they're ready and filled with confidence."

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