New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named Crusaders fly-half Richie Mo'unga in the starting line-up for the upcoming Rugby Championship encounter against Argentina in Nelson.
The decision follows after Hansen has decided to rest Beauden Barrett, who was his key performer in the first two Tests especially in the Auckland game where he scored four tries in order to assess the bench strength of the squad.
Mo'unga has been a vital cog in Crusaders' back to back title wins in Super Rugby and a number of pundits called for the 24-year-old's inclusion in the All Blacks line-up and has finally been rewarded for his consistent performances.
Nehe Milner-Skudder returns to New Zealand side on the right wing after making recovery from the injury that he sustained during the Test against South Africa last year in Cape Town. Meanwhile, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is set to make his debut for the side after he was named on the bench.
The other changes see TJ Perenara named at half-back while Ben Smith moves to fullback with Jordie Barrett dropping out of the matchday23 squad.
Scott Barrett gets a promotion to the starting XV while Sam Whitelock moves to the bench. Shannon Frizell, Ardie Savea and Luke Whitelock are at the other players drafted into the starting line-up by Hansen.
“While we’ve made a number of changes from our last outing, this is not a reflection on Argentina but rather a desire by us to grow the experience and depth of our squad," said Hansen.
"Secondary to that, we also know that if we don’t use the whole squad across a long season, we’ll run out of steam later in the year.
“In making these changes, it also needs to be said that the high expectation we place on ourselves remains the same, regardless of who we’ve selected. The All Blacks jersey demands this.”
New Zealand line-up: Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Waisake Naholo, Richie Mo’unga, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements: Nathan Harris, Tim Perry, Ofa Tuungafasi, Samuel Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown