No lock cover on bench as All Blacks bring out big guns

5:21 am on 19 September 2015

The All Blacks have named their strongest possible starting side for their first Rugby World Cup match against Argentina at Wembley Stadium on Monday (NZT).

New Zealand coaches Steve Hansen and Ian Foster at All Blacks training at the Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London. 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Wednesday 16 September 2015. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen (L) with assistant Ian Foster Photo: Photosport

Eleven players could make their tournament debut in the match, which will set a record for attendance at a World Cup game, with more than 90,000 fans expected.

The most interesting selections come on the bench, with coach Steve Hansen opting not to carry a specialist lock to cover Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

Lock Luke Romano at All Blacks training with Victor Vito in background at the Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London. 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Wednesday 16 September 2015. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Lock Luke Romano at All Blacks training with Victor Vito in background Photo: Photosport

Instead the starting blindside flanker Jerome Kaino and versatile loose forward Victor Vito will provide cover, with specialist openside Sam Cane also on the bench.

Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea will all make their first World Cup starts in the back three, along with Aaron Smith at halfback, while the experienced trio of Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith round out the backs.

Nehe Milner-Skudder at All Blacks training at the Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London. 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Wednesday 16 September 2015. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Nehe Milner-Skudder at All Blacks training Photo: Photosport

Kieran Read starts at No.8 alongside Kaino and the captain Richie McCaw, with Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles and Owen Franks in the front row.

TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams will cover the backs from the bench, with Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina and Keven Mealamu joining Vito and Cane as forward cover.

New Zealand: 15-Ben Smith, 14-Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Dan Carter, 9-Aaron Smith; 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (c), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Tony Woodcock

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams

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