When Pumas and All Blacks hit the field at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, it will be Argentina’s first Test match in 402 days.
The last time Mario Ledesma’s side played an official test against the USA at the World Cup last year, leaving them on long odds for the biggest surprise wins over the unbeaten New Zealand side. .
Until two weeks ago, a large number of Argentina’s players had not played a match at all since Super Rugby was suspended in March.
Even the matches they played in the past two weeks were only against Rugby Australia XV, which is definitely a far cry from the strength of the All Blacks.
By comparison, Ian Foster’s team enjoyed the full Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, brought back the North and South derby, booked the Bledisloe Cup for another year in a series of four matches against Australia and is currently leading the Tri-Nations.
Unsurprisingly, the size and quality of the matches the New Zealanders have played since their return to the stadiums in June makes them a strong candidate to expand their progress in the temporary SANZAAR competition.
Helping in their attempt to do so is the return of eight major players who starred in 43-5 defeat from the Wallabies at Bledisloe III, all of whom missed a surprise 24-22 defeat at the hands of the Australians in Brisbane last week..
Bringing this group back into the New Zealand home team eliminates the feeling of unfamiliarity that was evident in the All Blacks he left on the outskirts at Suncorp Stadium.
Instead, they were replaced by XV which is widely considered Foster’s team number one.
Features half-doubles for Richie Moonga and Aaron Smith, three in the back from Bjoden Barrett, Jordi Barrett and Caleb Clark, plus the likes of Patrick Tuepolotto, Joe Moody and Dean Coles at the front, All Blacks captain Sam Cane and his troops.
“I think based on the way we trained this week, the group was very clinical,” Kane told reporters from the team’s Manly Hotel during a phone call Friday about how his team was preparing.
“We trained really well, and with that we just have to improve the mental side of the game, and that is largely due to the attitude and the desire to get off the defensive line and a lot to do with the rate of work and things like that.
Don’t be wrong, though – this gentle confidence doesn’t translate into complacency from a New Zealand point of view.
After returning to camp for the first time in August, a month before Foster named his first team to the All Blacks, Cane was aware of the unity and cohesion that was bound to form among the Argentines..
Seeing this as a real threat to his team’s chances of success, he expects an early attack from the Pumas to undermine any Kiwi hopes for a quick victory.
« Anytime a team with a lot of preparations gets ready for a Test match and puts a great deal of energy into it, it will always be a dangerous team, ».
“I think they are the first Argentine professional team to play and represent their national team this year, so they will come out with great pride and we know how passionate they are, so we expect the first 20 teams minutes, in particular, to be everything.
Gaining any kind of ascension over their peers in the early stages of the competition may be enough to allow Puma to thrive and capitalize on their strengths.
Referring to their physical strength and organized attack, Kane reiterated the importance of keeping Argentinians in trouble.. .
“Obviously they can be very physical, but I think the hardest part about playing the Pumas at their best is their ability to keep the ball alive.
“Their scooping is so good on their feet and running good lines, so keeping the ball alive and getting behind the winning streak over and over is what can make them a tough monster to stop.
« We’ll have to try to nullify that, get off the line, cut them off, get two men in the solution, and hopefully we don’t see much of that tomorrow.
New Zealand National Rugby Union Team, Argentine National Rugby Union Team, Rugby Union, Rugby Championship, Sam Kahn
World News – African Confederation – Triple Rugby: ‘They Are Players’ The Dangerous Side – The biggest threat that Pumas poses to the All Blacks – NZ Herald
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