New Zealand - Argentina 2015 Rugby World Cup Match Preview: Favourites looking to lay down a marker
Richie McCaw will again lead the New Zealanders at the 2015 Rugby World Cup (image via: foxsports)

Steve Hansen has named his first choice XV for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup opener against which takes place on Sunday against Argentina at Wembley.

The players selected have over 1000 games of Test match experience between them, which goes some of the way to explaining the favourites tag they hold going into the World Cup.

Up against the trophy holders are an Argentinean side who feel they are primed for a big tournament, where they will be led by hooker Agustin Creevy.

All Blacks primed for fast start

After winning their home World Cup four years ago, it is now time for this New Zealand team to finally win the world’s biggest tournament on foreign soil to strengthen their legacy.

The main man, Richie McCaw, is back to lead his side into battle, ahead of his impending international retirement, where he is joined in the back-row on Sunday by Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino.

Dan Carter will orchestrate a fearsome back-line which includes flyers Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea, as well as the world’s most experienced centre partnership of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Argentina not here to make up the numbers

The last decade has been momentous for Argentinean rugby and most of it has come on the back of excellent World Cup showings.

In 2007, a Juan Martin Hernandez inspired Pumas side finished third in the competition, beating hosts France twice along the way, and also knocking out a much-fancied Ireland side.

Since then, Argentina have been added as the fourth nation in the Rugby Championship (previously Tri Nations), whilst starting next season, there will be an Argentinean franchise involved in the Super Rugby competition.

Proof of how far they have come lies in the fact that they are heavy favourites to join New Zealand as knockout qualifiers from Pool C.

Daniel Hourcade has named a strong side to take on the Kiwis including the aforementioned Hernandez, as well Aviva Premiership stars Marcos Ayerza and Marcelo Bosch

How the teams line up

Argentina: 1. Marcos Ayerza, 2. Agustin Creevy (captain), 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

4. Guido Petti, 5. Tomas Lavanini

6. Pablo Matera, 7. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 8. Leonardo Senatore

9. Tomas Cubelli, 10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Juan Imhoff, 12. Juan Martin Hernandez, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 14. Santiago Cordero, 15. Joaquin Tuculet

Replacements: 16. Julian Montoya, 17. Lucas Noguera, 18. Ramiro Herrera, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21. Martin Landajo, 22. Jeronimo De La Fuente, 23. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

New Zealand: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks

                                                       4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock                                                       
6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Richie McCaw (c), 8. Kieran Read

                                                            9. Aaron Smith, 10. Daniel Carter                                                                       
11. Julian Savea, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15. Ben Smith

Replacements: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Victor Vito, 20. Sam Cane, 21. T J Perenara, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Sonny Bill Williams