Rugby Championship

Jaguares dominate Pumas team to face All Blacks

Thirteen members of the starting XV for the Test in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning started for the Jaguares in the final of the Super Rugby two weeks earlier. The reserves bench is comprised entirely of Jaguares.

Ledesma is banking on the same chemistry at international level after the Jaguares exceeded all expectations by making a maiden final appearance, losing to the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The only changes to a team captained by world-class flanker Pablo Matera are the introduction of two experienced European-based stars.

A lack of Crusaders gives others a chance to shine for All Blacks

The Crusaders beat Argentine side Jaguares to claim a 10th Super Rugby title earlier this month and the national players in their squad were allowed to miss the long trip to Buenos Aires because they already face a punishing season that includes the World Cup in September.

"Those guys had a busy schedule and I think the rest will be good for them but we have got absolute confidence that the guys who are here can step up and do a job," Coles said ahead of Saturday's game.

Sonny Bill Williams injured again, in doubt for Rugby Championship test against Argentina

The oft-injured 33-year-old second five-eighths has pulled up with a tight hamstring at the All Blacks training camp in Auckland and is in doubt for the opening test of the year in Buenos Aires.

Williams missed a large chunk of the Blues' Super Rugby campaign after undergoing a knee procedure, and only made it back on the field for their last match of the season. He made an appearance for Ponsonby in Auckland club rugby last Saturday in order to get some rugby under his belt.

New All Black thought he'd missed selection

The Chiefs flanker is one of four uncapped players in the 39-strong group for the first two matches against Argentina and South Africa.

"I didn't really see this coming at all," Jacobson said.

"I thought I'd missed out on the selection because someone told me that you're meant to get a call before.

"I was like 'oh well, sweet as I'm a bit gutted but I'm still young so I've still got plenty of time' sort of thing, so getting named was pretty cool."

All Blacks not basking in Rugby Championship success

New Zealand's 35-17 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires at the weekend ensured another southern hemisphere championship for the All Blacks but that will not lead to any slackening of against the Springboks in Pretoria says Perenara.

"We're so focused on the next job and winning games and being the best footy players that we can be that we don't often have time to reflect on what we've achieved," Perenara, who celebrated his 50th cap in Velez Sarsfield win, told New Zealand media.

All Blacks say still room for improvement

It's only one round in but the world champions already look capable of pulling off a third successive clean sweep of the Sanzaar competition following the 38-13 humbling of Australia in Sydney.

It will take something special to halt Steve Hansen's men, who are short-priced favourites to repeat the dose at their Eden Park stronghold on Saturday and tuck the Bledisloe Cup away for another year.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus admits the New Zealanders are on another level.

All Blacks squad named for Rugby Championship

The return of captain Kieran Read, lock Brodie Retallick and experienced hooker Dane Coles highlight the squad.

The All Blacks open the competition against the Wallabies in Sydney on August 18. 

As well as the 33-man squad, two other players will assemble with the squad as injury cover. Hooker Liam Coltman comes in as cover for Coles, who is expected to return to test match rugby some time during the Rugby Championship, while midfielder Ngani Laumape comes in for Sonny Bill Williams, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.

All Blacks on verge of title

The All Blacks are averaging 6.8 tries and 46.3 points per game compared to 6.3 and 43.7 in 2016 and will wrap up a fifth Rugby Championship title if victorious against bottom-placed Argentina in Buenos Aires this weekend, irrespective of the result of the other match between South Africa and Australia in Bloemfontein.

Records forgotten when All Blacks-Springboks hit the field

A hardened lock very much in the mold of the generations of players who have occupied the Springboks second row, Etzebeth sees Saturday's Rugby Championship test at North Harbour Stadium as just 46 blokes going hammer and tongs on a patch of grass.

"Once you jog onto the field, any records, they disappear out of your head," the 25-year-old said on Friday about the fact South Africa had not won in New Zealand since 2009.

"You don't want to break records, you just want to win the test match. They want to win it, we want to win it. Records don't count for very much."

Springbok revival put to the test

The Springboks endured an awful 2016 as they suffered their first loss to Ireland at home and were thumped 41-13 and 57-15 by the All Blacks in their two Rugby Championship clashes.

They also lost all three of their end-of-season tests in Europe as they ended the year with just four wins from 12 matches and slumped as low as seventh in the world rankings by this March.