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The Rugby Championship

An annual competition involving the southern hemisphere’s top four rugby-playing nations – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. Known as the Tri Nations from 1996 to 2012, when the Pumas were invited to join the party.

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Carter pulls out of NZ's clash with Argentina

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 1:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 2:59am

Ace flyhalf Dan Carter has pulled out of the All Blacks side for  tomorrow's Rugby Championship clash against Argentina, forcing a sixth New Zealand change for the expected physical showdown.

Carter, the world's leading points scorer, withdrew with a calf strain and was replaced by Aaron Cruden just hours after coach Steve Hansen had named the team, which included a shake-up of the forward pack.

Novice international locks Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano, with only eight Tests between them, will fill the middle row against the renowned scrummagers from South America and Victor Vito replaces Liam Messam as blindside flanker.

Veteran World Cup winners, prop Tony Woodcock and centre Conrad Smith, slot back into the starting line-up after recovering from injury and Julian Savea wins his third cap on the left wing in place of Hosea Gear.

Prop Charlie Faumuina is set to make his All Blacks debut if he comes off the bench where he replaces Ben Franks.

Hansen said Carter had been carrying a tight left calf in training during the week but had hoped to recover.

"However, at training this morning it was apparent that he would not be able to play so we have done the sensible thing and withdrawn him from the Test match," Hansen said.

With Cruden elevated to number 10, Beauden Barrett, who made his Test debut against Ireland in June, has been called  to the bench.

It will be the 23-year-old Cruden's 13th Test but just his fifth start as he continues to benefit from injuries.

He was called into the All Blacks set-up at last year's World Cup when Carter was injured and came on against Argentina in the quarter-finals when then flyhalf understudy Colin Slade suffered a groin strain.

Hansen said there was room for improvement after New Zealand's last outing, a 22-0 win over arch-rivals Australia in which the All Blacks looked patchy at times, despite the lop-sided scoreline.

"We have been working on constantly improving our game and that has again been our focus this week," said Hansen.

"We were happy with our intensity and attitude in the last Test against Australia, but not so happy with our execution, when we didn't get the decision-making process right on occasions. So we are looking for improvement in that area this weekend."

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