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Jaguares confidence could help Pumas - Hansen

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Lynn McConnell     05 Jul 2019     Getty Images

After last weekend's semifinal injuries, or avoidance of them, would be one while looking at some of the South American players who will be the All Blacks first opponents when they meet the Pumas in Buenos Aires in a fortnight would be another.

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The Jaguares had impressed him in the way they had developed so quickly since coming into the competition and they were deserving of playing in the final.

"They're worthy finalists, they're not just there by chance. The two best teams in Super Rugby are playing in the final," he said.

The difference to earlier Jaguares sides was that they were now using their whole team.

"They've always had big bruising forwards but their backs have scored some sensational tries. They really opened the Brumbies up the other day at every opportunity they had off turnover ball they punished them," he said.

"They're just playing with a lot of confidence and together as a team rather than a group of individuals so you combine their strength as a forward pack and what they're doing with the ball in hand in the backline, that makes them a really dangerous side.

"Traditionally they've always been a strong scrummaging team and it's ironic they've probably lost a little bit of that strength but they've gained a whole lot of other ones.

"But the biggest weapon that they've gained, I think is confidence. They've got a belief and achieving anything in life is 90 percent believing you can actually do it. And I think they're going down there believing 100 percent that they can beat the Crusaders so that'll make them dangerous."
Whether their confidence would carry into the Rugby Championship and World Cup remained to be seen. Confidence was a fluid thing and he cited the case of the New Zealand cricket team at the World Cup where they had started well but then lost their last three games denting their confidence.

If the Jaguares won the Super Rugby title they would be even more confident and whatever happened through the Rugby Championship would either feed it or take it away.

"So if they do win it I certainly hope they celebrate long and hard because I think there's 39 of their squad that have been named [for Argentina]."

While different coaches would ensure there would be subtle differences in the way the Pumas would play, Hansen said there was a uniformity in Argentinian rugby that appeared to be as good as he had ever seen it.

"You would think there is a lot of commonality in what they are going to do but there will also be subtle differences," he said.

The way the Jaguares had developed and changed their game, while also growing depth in their squad had all been part of how much they had learned and they had shown the ability to cope with the travel, all of which had been impressive.

But Hansen warned the one thing the All Blacks knew was that at some stage all the travel would catch up on the side and the worry for the Argentina side was that they were deep in the Super Rugby finals but they still faced travel demands with the Pumas.