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All Blacks set to measure World Cup preparation against Argentina

AP

New Zealand will receive a clearer indication of the preparation for its Rugby World Cup defense when it plays Argentina on Friday in the first match of this season’s shortened Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks 25-16 win over Samoa 10 days ago in the first of five tests leading into the World Cup was unimpressive but excusable as a first step, with four new caps and immature combinations. Friday’s test against a World Cup pool rival will be a much greater measure of New Zealand’s progress toward the Cup as a form benchmark and selection guideline.

Neither team is at full strength and both are still engaged in selection experimentation in their last match before meeting at Twickenham on Sept. 21 in the first round of World Cup pool matches.