Ben Smith Rookies unleashed: All Blacks name surprise side for 2019 opener

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By Nigel Yalden in Buenos Aires

The All Blacks’ first test of 2019 is shaping up to be more of a fact-finding mission.

While a win against Argentina in the opening game of the Rugby Championship is the goal, seeing how a group without Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Ryan Crotty goes is far more valuable to the selectors in World Cup year.

Not that the side is devoid of experience by any stretch, with all the key areas well covered in terms of leadership.

Dane Coles and Brodie Retallick will command the tight five, captain Sam Cane leads the loose trio, the first choice pairing of Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett will run the cutter while vice-captain Ben Smith will oversee all from fullback.

The opportunity to learn about the new talent that has led Steve Hansen and his fellow selectors to start Sevu Reece on the right wing and give potential test debuts to Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor, who have all been named on

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