Tendai Mtawarira will tie the record for the most South Africa appearances in the Rugby Championship as the Springboks look to clinch the title on Saturday.

Mtawarira will earn his 110th cap against Argentina and his 53rd in the southern hemisphere tournament, equalling Bryan Habana's South Africa record.

The hugely experienced prop comes into the side in Salta as Rassie Erasmus makes just three changes to the team that drew with New Zealand, all in the front row.

Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane come in for Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi replaces Malcolm Marx.

The three men who miss out drop to the bench as South Africa chase their first title since 2009.

With the All Blacks just behind Erasmus' side, a bonus-point victory over the Pumas would seal top spot, with any win also still potentially enough to triumph. Each team is only playing three matches due to the Rugby World Cup.

Erasmus said: "The Pumas are a very difficult team to play at home and they will be fired up for this one in front of their passionate crowd in Salta.

"This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to 'Beast' [Mtawarira], who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks.

"We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina, however; they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide, so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle."

 

South Africa XV to play Argentina: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

Benjamin Urdapilleta is set to make his first Argentina appearance in more than six years in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against South Africa.

Urdapilleta, 33, has been named among the replacements for the encounter in Salta.

The fly-half, who has played 10 Tests for Los Pumas, last featured for his nation in June 2013.

Argentina have made five changes to the team beaten by Australia, with Tomas Lavanini rested and Agustin Creevy returning from a shoulder injury, while Guido Petti drops to the bench.

Emiliano Boffelli returns to full-back after missing the 16-10 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane.

While the Springboks are aiming to win the Rugby Championship, Argentina are searching for their first victory after back-to-back losses.

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero, Matias Moroni, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy, Juan Figallo, Matias Alemanno, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Facundo Isa.
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Guido Petti, Tomas Lezana, Gonzalo Bertranou, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Joaquin Tuculet.

Lionel Messi has been handed a three-month ban from international football for accusing South America's governing body CONMEBOL of "corruption" during the Copa America.

Barcelona star Messi was sent off, along with aggressor Gary Medel, after an altercation as Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in the competition's third-place play-off last month, the referee's decision appearing especially curious as he did not look back at the footage on the pitch-side VAR monitor.

After the match, Messi did not appear with his team-mates to collect a medal, sparking questioning from reporters.

Messi explained his snub of the ceremony as not wanting to "be part of this corruption, this lack of respect towards the whole Copa".

He also blasted the officiating at the competition following Argentina's semi-final loss to hosts Brazil, before then suggesting referees and the VAR would favour Tite's men against Peru in the final, which the Selecao won 3-1.

As punishment for his outbursts, Messi is to serve a three-month suspension from Friday's announcement, ruling him out of Argentina matches until November.

That means he will miss friendlies against Chile, Mexico and Germany, while Messi has also been fined $50,000.

CONMEBOL has given the forward seven days to appeal the sanctions.

Lionel Scaloni will take charge of Argentina in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) has confirmed.

Scaloni was part of Argentina's coaching staff for their poor campaign at Russia 2018, after which Jorge Sampaoli left his post.

The AFA put the former Deportivo La Coruna defender in charge, initially on a temporary basis, and he led Argentina to the Copa America semi-finals, where they lost to rivals and eventual champions Brazil.

But it seems Scaloni has done enough to impress the AFA as he will be staying in charge for their qualifying campaign.

"The executive committee of the AFA decided to give continuity during the next qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that will begin next year, to the selection project headed by Lionel Scaloni," an AFA statement said.

Argentina won the Copa America third-place play-off earlier this month against Chile in a match that saw star forward Lionel Messi controversially sent off.

They are set to face Chile, Mexico and Germany in friendlies ahead of starting on the road to Qatar.

Australia scrum-half Will Genia lauded Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium as the "most special" ground after playing his final Test there in Saturday's 16-10 Rugby Championship win over Argentina.

Queenslander Genia, 31, is set to retire from the international stage after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, meaning he was playing his last Test in front of his home crowd.

Making his 102nd appearance for the Wallabies, Genia dominated during his 60 minutes on the pitch and was named Man of the Match.

He enjoyed some of the most memorable moments of his career in the stadium, for Australia and the Reds, and acknowledged its special status.

He said: "It's the most special place for me to play, because of the people, because of the support and because of the many special memories I've had here over the years with the Wallabies and the Reds."

Saturday's clash was by no means a classic, but it allowed the Wallabies to bounce back from the 35-17 defeat to South Africa and ease the pressure on coach Michael Cheika.

"Off the back of bouncing back, in terms of getting a win, but also playing a little better, we're one more week into the way we want to play and developing our system and hopefully we can continue to build that momentum against New Zealand," he added.

"We defended for 90 per cent of that game. That's an attitude thing and it shows the boys' attitude was in the right place."

Argentina captain Pablo Matera was frustrated by his side's performance, ruing their inability to make the most of their opportunities.

He said: "We knew they'd have a good scrum, they were better than us, they had more penalties and plays than us. It's something we have to improve.

"It was a really tough game. I think we lost too many balls in the contact. We had too many chances to get points and didn't do it [take advantage]."

Christian Lealiifano marked his emotional Australia comeback with an impressive display as the Wallabies claimed a much-needed 16-10 victory over Argentina in the Rugby Championship to ease the pressure on head coach Michael Cheika.

Lealiifano started at fly-half on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, returning to the international fold almost three years after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

The Brumbies star linked up well with veteran scrum-half Will Genia and contributed 11 points with his right boot, adding to a sole try from Reece Hodge, as Australia bounced back from their 35-17 loss to South Africa by inflicting a seventh straight defeat on the Pumas.

Cheika's men did not need to be at their best to overcome a below-par Argentina side that struggled to retain possession, but the Wallabies can nevertheless take heart from a morale-boosting victory ahead of their daunting clash against New Zealand on August 10.

The first points of a frantic first half that featured plenty of handling errors came courtesy of a penalty from Lealiifano.

Nicolas Sanchez responded with three points of his own before Argentina spurned an excellent chance to move ahead. A flowing break down the left got the Pumas to five metres out with plenty of numbers over, but an inaccurate pass led to Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro knocking on.

That error was soon punished as Australia moved ahead courtesy of a slick set-piece play. Tevita Kuridrani and the impressive Samu Kerevi served as decoy runners from a scrum, and Marika Koroibete surged into a gap before working the ball through Kurtley Beale for Hodge to score.

What a try! Beautiful work from Hodge. Australia lead going into half time.

10-3#AUSvARG #GoldBlooded pic.twitter.com/AenqrDFLIj

— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) July 27, 2019

Lealiifano converted from the right touchline and added two more penalties early in the second half before making way for Matt Toomua, extending the lead of the increasingly assured hosts to 16-3.

That advantage initially came under little threat as Argentina, hampered by the absence of talismanic hooker Agustin Creevy, failed to muster any real momentum in attack.

Facundo Isa eventually burrowed over from a lineout drive for a 74th-minute try converted by Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, but Australia – who introduced James O'Connor off the bench late on for his first appearance since September 2013 – were deserving winners.

Australia captain Michael Hooper is excited to see "outstanding" talent James O'Connor back in a Wallabies shirt as they take on Argentina on Saturday.

O'Connor has not played for his country since facing the Pumas in 2013, but he has been named among the replacements for this weekend's Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane.

The 44-cap international has already impressed Hooper in training, increasing anticipation of his return.

"His ability is outstanding," Hooper told a news conference of O'Connor. "I haven't seen him for quite a few years - obviously I've seen him play - but he's still got remarkable ability skill-wise, speed-wise.

"He's been able to show that in training, so it's really exciting for him to get an opportunity out on the field.

"James has been building himself within the group, taking things in, seeing where he can inject, things like that. He's been a really enjoyable player to have in the squad."

Christian Lealiifano will start, meanwhile, having returned to form with the Brumbies after a battle with leukaemia.

Hooper says it is Lealiifano's leadership that has impressed in Super Rugby, potentially giving Australia a boost in that department.

"Christian this year, from watching from afar and playing against him, has a really great leadership quality," the Wallabies skipper said.

"The way he drove the Brumbies around all year and the way they built momentum, they went close to a place that's really hard to win at.

"As a reward of really good performance and leadership, he gets his opportunity here, where he hasn't been in a couple of years. It's fantastic for him and his family."

New Zealand may have beaten Argentina by just four points last week but they head into the second round of the Rugby Championship as favourites to see off South Africa.

The Springboks won on their previous visit, although history is very much against them when it comes to away Tests against the All Blacks, with the 57-0 demolition of two years ago still fresh in their minds.

Australia could not handle Rassie Erasmus' men last week but will hope for more success against an Argentina side who have won just two of their past 15 Tests on their travels.

In fact, the Pumas will be bidding to win for only the second time on Australian soil since 1983.

Take a look at the pick of the Opta numbers ahead of round two...

 

Australia v Argentina

- Australia have won 16 of their most recent 18 games against Argentina, including a 45-34 win in their last encounter – the highest total score ever between the two nations.

- The Pumas have only beaten Australia once away from home since 1983 - a 23-19 win in Queensland last September.

- Argentina are on a losing streak of six games, including their past three matches on the road.

- Australia conceded 291 metres in round one, the fewest of any of the four teams and 183 metres lower than their game average from 2018.

- Jeronimo de la Fuente was the only player to make more than 10 carries and 10 tackles in round one (11 carries, 12 tackles).

New Zealand v South Africa

- New Zealand have won 12 of the past 14 Tests against South Africa - including a 32-30 victory last time out - and 22 of their most recent 25 against all opposition.

- The Springboks claimed a 36-34 win on their previous visit to New Zealand and will be hoping for back-to-back wins there for only the third time in their history, after 1937 and 2008-09.

- They have won three of their past four Tests but only triumphed twice in their most recent 12 away Rugby Championship matches.

- The All Blacks are just six points shy of becoming the first team in Test rugby history to reach 16,000 points. No other team has even gone beyond 14,000.

- Ngani Laumape gained 7.2 metres per carry in round one of this year's tournament, the most of any player to make at least 10 carries.

Christian Lealiifano and James O'Connor will make their Test returns after being named in a much-changed Wallabies squad to face Argentina.

Lealiifano, 31, is set for his first Australia appearance since June 2016, having returned to form with the Brumbies after a battle with leukaemia.

While Lealiifano was named to start at fly-half for the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane on Saturday, O'Connor is among the reserves.

O'Connor has played 44 Tests for the Wallabies, but the last of those was in September 2013, also against Argentina.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika made five changes to the starting team that lost to South Africa 35-17 and another five to his reserves.

Scott Sio is back from a hamstring injury for Australia, who have won 16 of their past 18 games against Argentina.

The Wallabies have also been hard to stop at Suncorp Stadium, where they have won their past five games, including four by a single-digit margin.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Folau Fainga'a, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.
Replacements: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Nic White, Matt To'omua, James O'Connor.

Lionel Messi has been handed a ban and fine after his red card during Argentina's Copa America win over Chile in the third-place play-off.

Messi, 32, will serve a one-match suspension after his altercation with Gary Medel, also sent off, during Argentina's 2-1 victory earlier this month.

In a statement on Tuesday, CONMEBOL also confirmed the Barcelona star had been fined $1,500, with no appeal possible.

The single judge of the disciplinary tribunal confirmed "the automatic suspension imposed on the player Lionel Andres Messi, not agreeing on any additional suspension" while imposing the $1,500 fine.

Messi, controversially sent off, railed against "corruption" and "a lack of respect" following his red card.

His statements angered the governing body, which hit back at what it felt were "unfounded accusations".

James O'Connor has put his party-boy lifestyle behind him as he seeks to reignite his Australia career.

O'Connor is in contention for his first Wallabies cap in six years when Argentina visit Brisbane in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The 29-year-old utility back last featured against the same opponents in 2013, before his contract was ripped up amid reports of being intoxicated and abusive towards staff at Perth Airport.

That added to a lengthy rap sheet and stalled O'Connor on 44 Test caps but his form for Sale Sharks paved the way for a return to his homeland with the Queensland Reds last week, making him available for Australia once more.

"Tuesday nights, James was always out and about doing stuff because Wednesday we have off," scrum-half Will Genia told reporters when discussing O'Connor's new mature approach.

"Tuesday night in the last three or four weeks that we've had, he's in his room stretching, doing what it takes in terms of recovery.

"He understands that this is a huge opportunity for him."

Genia believes the example of Nic White, who started the opening Rugby Championship defeat to South Africa having spent the past two years with Exeter Chiefs, shows O'Connor's reintroduction can be a success.

"You saw Whitey come back and play very well. Hopefully it can be a similar story with James because I think he was on 44 Tests and he was so young when he left," added Genia, who will retire from Wallabies duty after the World Cup.

"We all know how good he is and hopefully, the fact he's in a better space mentally, he can be an even better player this time around."

South Africa have named a strong 36-man touring squad for the Rugby Championship matches against New Zealand and Argentina after fielding an under-strength side for the win over Australia.

The Springboks beat the Wallabies 35-17 on Saturday despite Rassie Erasmus leaving out a string of key men at Ellis Park.

Director of rugby Erasmus' decision to make changes did not backfire, as scrum-half Herschel Jantjies scored two tries in an impressive debut.

Erasmus flew out to New Zealand soon after the victory along with his coaching staff and eight players - including the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Jesse Kriel, Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Fourteen Springboks had already departed two days before the win over Australia to gear up for a showdown with New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Tendai Mtawarira and Schalk Brits are among another 10 who will board the plane on Sunday.

South Africa take on Argentina in Salta on August 10 after doing battle with the world champions.

 

South Africa squad:

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Marcell Coetzee, Lood de Jager, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Rynhardt Elstadt, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Franco Mostert, Trevor Nyakane, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Andre Esterhuizen, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Willie le Roux, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn.

 

 

Steve Hansen said New Zealand's hard-fought Rugby Championship win over Argentina gives them "a little bit more money in the bank" having triumphed without so many key men.

Captain Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Codie Taylor were among the All Blacks to be rested for their opening game of the tournament on Saturday.

The understrength world champions had to dig deep to edge a 20-16 victory over the Pumas, secured courtesy of tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, along with 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett.

Head coach Hansen was relieved that his selection gamble paid off ahead of a showdown with South Africa in Wellington next Saturday.

"If you look at the Crusaders not being here [in Buenos Aires] It's a minimum of probably 400 Test caps, but we knew that," Hansen said.

"That's why we talked earlier in the week about risk and reward."

Hansen added: "At times we were rusty, but we did a lot of good things.

"One of the greatest things we did was at the end with all the young fellows on we showed a lot of mental fortitude. So really pleased with that.

"To get away with the win is a little bit more money in the bank."

New Zealand found it "bloody tough" to get the job done against Argentina, number eight Ardie Savea admitted.

The All Blacks came out on top 20-16 in Buenos Aires as they began their Rugby Championship campaign on a winning note.

But after first-half tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, and 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett, New Zealand were kept scoreless in the second half.

They were clinging on at the end, and Savea agreed when asked if it felt like a "war" against the Pumas.

Savea told SKY Sport NZ: "It was, mate. It was bloody tough out there.

"The Argentinian players came out firing and just kept coming at us the full 80 minutes. I’m just proud of the boys for sticking in there.

"We just talked about the next moment and dominating the next moment, so when we made mistakes we'd just connect and talk about the the next moment and how we could dominate that, and hopefully gain momentum."

New Zealand will regroup for next weekend's home game against South Africa, and look to work out how Argentina caused them so many difficulties.

"They bought a bit of line speed on our attack and they put our skills under pressure," Savea said.

"And at times their pressure worked. We'll learn from that hopefully."

New Zealand fended off an impressive Argentina side 20-16 in Buenos Aires to secure a winning start to their Rugby Championship campaign.

After South Africa's earlier resounding victory over Australia, this was a match of a different nature and the All Blacks were clinging on at the end for their success on Saturday.

First-half tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick looked to have put the visitors in control, but New Zealand went scoreless in the second 40 minutes.

Emiliano Boffelli pulled a try back and, come the closing stages, Argentina were camped close to the New Zealand line.

However, they could not find the second try they required to earn what would have been Argentina's first victory over world champions the All Blacks in 33 attempts.

This clash followed the Jaguares' stunning run to the Super Rugby final, where they fell to New Zealand outfit the Crusaders.

Argentina's starting line-up includes 13 Jaguares players and head coach Mario Ledesma hoped they could deliver a major upset.

A pair of early penalties, the first from Nicolas Sanchez and the second a long-range kick from Boffelli, gave Argentina a 6-0 lead inside six minutes.

Argentina were behind, though, after Laumape breached their defences in the 17th minute and Beauden Barrett booted the conversion.

Sanchez and Barrett traded penalties in quick succession before the latter added his second three-pointer, and Retallick seized on a loose pass to run clear for a crucial try prior to half-time.

Barrett added the two points again, but surprisingly New Zealand would make no further contribution to the scoresheet – the All Blacks failing to score in the second half of A test for the first time since 2011.

New Zealand still achieved a 450th international win but not without a scare.

A fine kick from Sanchez created the chance for Boffelli to dot down in the 47th minute. Sanchez added the conversion and Argentina, largely camped in New Zealand's half, were within a try with over half an hour left on the clock.

Sanchez missed a penalty that could have made it closer still as the Pumas pushed hard to break down New Zealand, being defied at the death when they forced two lineouts close to the try line but could get over from neither.

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