All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter, who sustained a calf strain, is ready and available for selection against Argentina – a match which could seal the Rugby Championship trophy for New Zealand.
The calf injury forced Carter to miss New Zealand’s last two home Tests against Argentina and South Africa.
Coach Steve Hansen says Carter came through training on Tuesday without missing a beat.
“He’s training like he’s ready to play, so as long as he continues to progress he’ll be playing,” Hansen told reporters.
“He came through today’s session pretty good. We pulled him out after about 45 minutes and he wasn’t overly happy about that, he wanted to do a bit more so that was a good sign.”
Carter’s return boosts an All Blacks team wary of Argentina’s improving form after they led Australia 19-6 before succumbing 23-19 last Sunday on the Gold Coast.
“They started to use the ball a bit against Australia and looked really dangerous so they might get some confidence out of that and maybe play some more rugby,” Hansen said.
He said the All Blacks will be looking to apply pressure and score early tries, something no team had managed in the Pumas’ last three Rugby Championship matches.
“We need to score early and put them under pressure, otherwise they’re going to stay in the game and it’ll be a real battle.”
In their only home game to date, Argentina held South Africa to a 16-16 draw at Mendoza in late August.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan has retained the same line-up which pushed Australia on the Gold Coast last weekend, tweaking his bench to bring in prop Marcos Ayerza for Juan Pablo Orlandi while lock Tomas Vallejos comes in for Leonardo Senatore.
Fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino says the Pumas are looking to play the All Blacks at their own game.
“We have been working the ruck and attack area… I imagine it will be a dynamic game.”