All Blacks have expanded enemy intelligence regarding Los Pumas
James Mortimer 01 Sep 2014 Getty Images
This has become one of the most prominent aspects of Steve Hansen’s team – the ability to recognise from one international to the next the enhancements needed and the errors that need eradicating.
Argentina, who lost 6-13 and 31-33 to the Springboks in Pretoria and Salta respectively, were supremely in control of the scrum exchanges, a surprise considering that Los Pumas have continued to introduce new blood, although veterans remain.
Mariano Galarza, Bruno Postiglioni and Ramiro Herrera won’t be names overly familiar outside of Argentina, but players like this trio are young by tight forward standards and are now proven at the highest levels – while loosehead Marcos Ayerza and flanker Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe provide the grizzled experience.
Indeed, this is the biggest work on for Argentina.
So competitive in many aspects, even dominant in some, they are often overrun in the close stages of matches by their SANZAR opponents, and coach Daniel Hourcade has been pushing fitness levels to assist in the hunt for an 80 minute performance.
Meanwhile All Blacks mentor Steve Hansen told the NZ Herald there were many aspects for his troops to be wary of.
“Their scrum is very, very good,” he said.
“Their lineout has variation in it which makes it difficult to upset their ball.
“I've always thought they're one of the best defensive sides in the world - they show a lot of space on the outside but seem to be able to shut it down pretty quickly and their backs are looking to want to play.”
New Zealand 28 v Argentina 13 - Full Time #NZLvARG— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 7, 2013
Conrad Smith, who is set to resume his long running partnership with Ma’a Nonu in the World Champion’s midfield, said to ONE News that four matches in two years had allowed the camp to compile more information on the South Americans.
“We've talked about how we've been slow to learn when we first play them,” he said.
“We spend 80 minutes playing against them, learning their style and then we have travelled over there and played a lot better. It's something we're keen to address, realising the differences they bring to the game and being prepared for it."
Los Pumas arrived in Auckland over the weekend, while the All Blacks touched down in Ranfurly Shield country last night to what was estimated to be a crowd of over 1,000.
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