- Winger comes back into the side for semi-final
- Foster guards against complacency after superb performance against Ireland
- All Blacks second favourites behind South Africa
New Zealand winger Mark Telea is set to make a return in the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup semi-final against Argentina. The 26-year-old was omitted from the squad for the quarter-final victory over Ireland due to a breach of team protocol.
Two changes for All Blacks as Foster stresses the need for focus
Telea’s return is one of two alterations to Ian Foster’s starting XV for the upcoming semi-final. Sam Whitelock will be stepping in for Brodie Retallick in the second row.
Meanwhile, Argentina has made a solitary change for the game in Paris, with Gonzalo Bertranou taking the place of Tomas Cubelli at scrum-half.
Telea, who showcased his prowess by scoring twice in the initial match, where New Zealand suffered a loss to hosts France, will be replacing Leicester Fainga’anuku. Fainga’anuku was responsible for one of New Zealand’s three tries in the quarter-final against Ireland.
Foster commented: “That’s the team we think best for this week. He [Telea] has done his time. He made a mistake and accepted what happened but you don’t linger in that space.
“We have got a faith in him and think he is in good place to play this game.”
Foster also highlighted the need for his players to refocus after their superb win over Ireland:
“The best way to recover is to refocus really quickly on what the next challenge is and not to listen too much to any praise you’re given as a group for a performance,” said Foster, who was assistant to Steve Hansen four years ago when New Zealand lost to England in the semi-finals.
“Not to go down that path, not to get softened because everyone’s patting you on the back saying you played well.
“That’s not a good place to be as a team.
“I love the way the team has buckled down, we’ve redefined the challenge for us as a group, we’re not satisfied with where we are now and when you’re clear about your goal for the week the recovery comes along pretty quickly.
“You know that if we’re not right on Friday night at Stade de France, it’s going to be a sad old night and we don’t want it to be like that.
“You get people talking to you about tomorrow and trying to take your eyes off today.
“In 2019 we probably didn’t stop being patted on the back after the quarter-final, hence some of my language today and we’re just trying to dial this back, keep things simple and let’s just worry about Friday.”
Among the Argentina squad, seven players have remained from the team that made it to the semi-finals in 2015. This includes captain Julian Montoya and replacement fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, who secured a late interception try in the Pumas’ quarter-final triumph over Wales.
The winner of this first semi-final will advance to face the victor of the clash between England and South Africa in the final, which is scheduled to take place at the Stade de France on Saturday, 28th October.
Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Bertranou; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Gomez Kodela, Petti, Lavanini, Gonzalez, Kremer, Isa.
Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Alemanno, Bruni, Bazan Velez, Sanchez, Moroni.
New Zealand: B Barrett; Jordan, Ioane, J Barrett, Telea; Mo’unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Lomax, Whitelock, S Barrett, Frizell, Cane (capt), Savea.
Replacements: Taukei’aho, Williams, Newell, Retallick, Papalii, Christie, McKenzie, Lienert-Brown.
New Zealand are heavy favourites to progress to the final. At the time of writing bet365 have the All Blacks at 1/14 with Argentina at 10/1 and a draw at 50/1.
Foster’s side are currently second favourites to win the World Cup. At the time of writing they are 6/5 with BoyleSports behind favourites South Africa, 10/11 and ahead of England, 14/1. Argentina are classed as outsiders, currently priced at 33/1 with BoyleSports.