Mo’unga, Smith back as NZ swing axe

Richie Mo’unga has returned at flyhalf in one of nine personnel changes to the All Blacks team to face Argentina in Sydney on Saturday.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has made wholesale changes to the team which lost the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies last weekend.

Regular halfback pair Aaron Smith and Mo’unga have returned to the starting lineup after missing the Test in Brisbane, causing Beauden Barrett – who started at flyhalf in Brisbane – to shift back to fullback.

Jordie Barrett will start on the right wing in a back three which features the return of Caleb Clarke, while Jack Goodhue has replaced Ngani Laumape at inside centre.

There are five changes among the forwards with an all-new front row of Joe Moody, Dane Coles and Tyrel Lomax. Moody returns after missing the last two Tests through HIA (head injury assessment) protocols.  Hooker Codie Taylor is on the bench alongside Alex Hodgman and Nepo Laulala, who has returned from parental leave.

Patrick Tuipulotu, who missed the Brisbane Test with illness, has been named in the second row alongside Samuel Whitelock, with Tupou Vaa’i covering from the bench.

In the final change to the starting lineup Shannon Frizell replaces Akira Ioane at blindside flank. Ioane has been left out of the match-day 23 entirely after playing just 22 minutes on his Test debut due to Ofa Tu’ungafasi’s red card.

All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Damian McKenzie.

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images