Collins under no illusions

Photosport     20 Jun 2006     Photosport

Argentine rugby teams are much more cosmopolitan in their play as their best players populate the European leagues and are vastly different to those sides who first carried the country into international rugby with their reliance on power scrummaging and a kicking first five-eighths.

Increasingly, they have begun to demonstrate the rub-off effect of their players who appear in France.

Collins said it is his first trip to Argentina but he is confident that many of the players in his side have appreciated their break and they are 'rearing to go', as he put it.

With news emerging in the days before his first echelon of All Blacks embarked for Buenos Aires last week, of Welsh disquiet over dubious Argentinian tactics in the depths of rucks and mauls, Collins was non-plussed.

"If everyone analyses what happens in the forwards probably 90 percent of what goes on in the forwards is illegal so it doesn't really bother us," he said.

"It is just one of those things, some players take more exception than others but they are just like any other forward pack.

"Obviously with them playing France, there is the term 'niggly' to be thrown around but people forget there is a lot of flair in the French forwards," he said.

The forwards work well with their backs and that makes them especially dangerous.

But just as Richie McCaw's teams found against Ireland, much of their hope for success depends on clearing their lack of play from their systems very quickly.

Collins played club rugby before leaving for Argentina, and other members of his unit did too. And while they were technically taking a break from the game, it is not really the case.

"It's pretty much like any job, the boss tells you he wants you to do something and you do it, you have just got to buy into it.

"A lot of people think you are at home getting a break, but it is never a break. You are always training," he said.

Collins did feel that New Zealanders didn't give Ireland credit for the way it played, especially in the first Test.

He said if you looked at any of the Tri-Nations sides starting their 2006 international seasons they were all similar in being below their best.

He pointed to the South Africans playing a World XV and coming back stronger in their second appearance as being typical of what happens.

For all that, Collins didn't especially enjoy having to watch the Irish matches on television.

"I am just like any other fan, I ride the highs and lows," he said.

But the Argentina match will provide even greater demands for the bulky blindsider as he assumes the captaincy of the side and all that it entails in shepherding his team through the demanding cauldron that Buenos Aires will be.