Fly Half Conundrums as the Rugby Championship returns

The Rugby Championship resumes tomorrow after a two week break, and we head into it with each side looking for a hugely significant victory.

New Zealand travel to Argentina, where a win will all but guarantee them the title. With Dan Carter back in the starting team and Aaron Cruden moving down to the bench, the All Blacks are now looking even more potent.

They will not underestimate the Argentinians though, who have been strong throughout the tournament and in their only other home game secured a deserved 16-16 draw with South Africa.

Argentina are desperate to get a victory is their first year in the competition, and none would have more significance than beating the almighty All Blacks.

It is at fly half where we are likely to be treated to the greatest spectacle, with the undisputed world number 1, Dan Carter, facing the outrageously gifted Juan Martin Hernandez. For anyone wanting a lesson in how to play the game, it would be well worth keeping an eye on those two.

It is at fly half in the other game that all eyes will be fixed on too. Australia travel to South Africa having removed Quade Cooper from the squad after his twitter outburst, moving the woefully out of form Kurtley Beale to fly half, with Berrick Barnes moving to full back.

It seems a rather odd decision given that Barnes has been the form player in the Aussie backline, and has spent more time at 10 than Beale. Most observers would say you don’t want to move an out of form player to the key pivot position, but Robbie Deans is a man under pressure, and he knows that Beale has the magic within him, and is capable of doing the outrageous to win games.

South Africa have their own fly half issues, after dropping Morne Steyn. Steyn has been kicking poorly, and when your role in the team is to guide them around with your boot, that is not a good sign.

Heyenke Meyer has picked in his place the 20-year-old Cheetahs fly half, Johan Goosen, who makes his first Test start.

Neither side can really afford to lose, with both having come under a lot of criticism for their performances in the competition so far. The Springboks have not lost against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld for 49 years though, and will be determined not to let that proud record slip.

Teams:

Argentina:

15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements:

16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Tomas Vallejos, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.

New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements:

16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.

South Africa:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn/Jaco Taute, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements:

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.

Australia:

15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements:

16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Anthony Fainga’a.

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