Christchurch - The pressure is on Dan Carter to reignite his running game against Argentina on Friday as the All Blacks countdown to their Rugby World Cup title defence.
The Argentina clash in Christchurch opens the fourth edition of The Rugby Championship, a tournament the All Blacks have always won and in which they have an impressive record of 16 wins, one draw and one loss from 18 games.
South Africa, the second most successful team, travel to Brisbane to play Australia on Saturday in the other opening round match of a tournament which this year loses some lustre to the bigger prize of the World Cup.
All four coaches will be juggling combinations through the southern hemisphere competition to best prepare for the global tournament in England in September-October.
With Argentina fielding a renowned forward pack, conditions are ripe for a tense, tight battle in temperatures expected to be around freezing point.
But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is keen to see Carter, the world's leading Test points scorer, up the pace of the game and bring more variety to his play.
Carter won the world player of the year award when his peerless running game helped the All Blacks trounce the British and Irish Lions 3-1 in their 2005 Test series.
It is part of his game that has drifted off in recent years and if the All Blacks telegraph anything before the World Cup it will be Hansen's drive to bring it back.
"I think he can create more danger by carrying and once he gets that back into his game then he's a very, very dangerous attacker because he can carry, he can pass and he can kick," Hansen said.
The All Blacks have made six changes to the side that under-performed against Samoa last week, including the introduction of wing Waisake Naholo, the top try scorer in Super Rugby this year.
Naholo and fellow wing Julian Savea run off the end of a backline that features a powerful centres pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams outside Carter.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade, whose side have only one win at home against Australia from three years in the competition, fears his team face a backlash from an All Blacks unit embarrassed by being held to a 25-16 win by Samoa last week.
"Surely, they are going to correct what they have done. That's why they are the best team in the world," he said.
Argentina captain Augustin Creevy said his side would have to be at the best to get near the All Blacks, which will not be easy with the Pumas forced to rest some players, including star playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez, who have just completed an arduous season in Europe.
Their run-on side includes three players - Santiago Cordero, Facunda Isa and Guido Petti Pagadizabal - who have not experienced Rugby Championship pressure before.
South Africa head to Brisbane with nine players added to the squad that crushed a World XV last weekend, while captain Jean de Villiers has been left at home to continue his recovery from a knee injury.
Schalk Burger is back in the starting line-up after impressing off the bench last week, while coach Heyneke Meyer has made four other changes in the reserves as part of a planned rotation in their World Cup build up.
"I've said last week that we will make changes, but it's also important to keep some form of momentum. Saturday's match is going to be massive in the context of our season and we have to ensure we tick the right boxes," said Meyer.
With a huge contest expected at the breakdown, Burger will partner Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee against Scott Higginbotham, Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper who held off former captain David Pocock for the number seven jersey.
The Wallabies have recalled Toulon-based Matt Giteau after a four-year absence and reunited half-backs Quade Cooper and Will Genia.
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read, 7 McCaw, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Jeronimo De la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 5 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Nahuel Chaparro Tetaz, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino