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Pumas main goal is improvement

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Sportal.co.nz     06 Sep 2012     Getty Images

The Pumas have made a promising start to the four-nation competition that pits them against the big three southern hemisphere sides on a regular basis for the first time.

It is unknown territory for the South Americans, who have been starved of top tier competition outside of World Cups.

They have already proved they will be competitive in their two outings against South Africa and were unlucky not to claim a victory two weeks ago in Mendoza.

But there is no denying the Pumas are on a steep learning curve.

"We've never played in our lives six games one after the other at this level against the best teams in the world," said coach Santiago Phelan. "We are trying to have a good experience and grow the team every time we play.

"We want to try to improve our play with the ball, our attack system, to continue with our organisation on defence and to keep on developing players at this level to play the intensity that New Zealand, Australia and South Africa play.

"We're not used to having that intensity. We are trying to get from this tournament how to play that kind of intensity, how to play 80 minutes against the best teams in the world."

Developing and improving their attack is the big focus for a team already respected for its uncompromising forward play.

Former All Blacks mentor Graham Henry is playing a key role in that development in his position as technical advisor to Phelan.

"He is teaching and giving advice to improve ourselves individually in our positions – to do a simple game but to execute it right, or better than before," explained first five-eighths Juan Martin Hernandez, who returns to the side for Saturday's game in Wellington after missing the 16-16 draw with South Africa in Mendoza with a groin injury.

"In the past years we've been good at defending but we need attack. He has given us some information, some tips, to do that."

Whether that translates into more running and less kicking from the Argentine backs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday remains to be seen. But wing Gonzalo Camacho, who has four tries in 13 Tests, hopes so.

"We'll see how the match develops and from there we'll see if we are going to kick or run. But for me it would be better to run. I like to touch the ball and run."

But Camacho knows exactly what to expect from the All Blacks.

"They will try and impose their physicality against us," he said. "They are very strong. They are very skilled. They will try to attack us and try and get us one-on-one and with that try to win the match and score tries."