Argentina V New Zealand: Players with a Point to Prove

Danny Coyle@dannyjpcoyleFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

Argentina V New Zealand: Players with a Point to Prove

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    New Zealand face Argentina at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata on Saturday and will be looking to tighten their grip on the second Rugby Championship.

    But a fired up Argentina, so close to their first win last time out against Australia, will be in no mood to roll over in front of their home crowd.

    Here are four players who will need to make their mark in the penultimate round of the Rugby Championship.

1. Aaron Cruden, New Zealand

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    Every time Aaron Cruden gets a shot at filling Dan Carter’s boots is an opportunity to paint himself as the rightful heir to the fly-half's throne.

    He was slotting into that role comfortably in his last prolonged stint in the No. 10 jersey but injury meant he had to concede ground to Beauden Barrett and Tom Taylor before Carter took back the reins.

    With the All Blacks likely to have enough front-foot ball, even on Argentine soil, Cruden will have the chance to display his full armoury in a bid to cement himself as the leading 10 while Carter cools his heels until November.

2. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Argentina

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    The absence of the injured Richie McCaw makes Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe the outstanding loose forward on the field this Saturday, and he will need to be by some distance to keep his side in this one.

    Beating Sam Cane at the breakdown and being his usual energetic self all over the park will be the minimum requirement for the Pumas' captain if the home side are to put up a genuine challenge.

    Can Lobbe, who missed the first two game of the this year's Rugby Championship through injury, still drag an entire team with him?

     

3. Andrew Hore, New Zealand

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    Andrew Hore returns to the starting lineup and, at the ripe old age of 35, will need to prove experience counts for more than youthful exuberance if his international career is to enjoy an Indian summer.

    Young buck Dane Coles has won plenty of admirers since his emergence but Hore has been around the block enough times to deal with the Latin fervor they can expect from the Pumas' front row on home turf.

    He’ll need a big performance to prove he should be retained in the squad on a longer term basis though.

4. Juan Martin Hernandez, Argentina

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    It has been a while since this enigmatic talent played well enough to walk into a world XV, but at his best he is still capable of producing the kind of rugby no opponent can live with.

    With his cannon of a boot, deceptive turn of pace and bone-jarring tackling, he will need all of his skills to be on show to make it a famous night in La Plata.

    Think back to 2007, when he was the finest sight on any field. Will the real JMH please stand up?