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Argentina another test for up-tempo game

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Lynn McConnell     07 Sep 2016     Getty Images

As a side capable of meeting that sort of All Blacks fire with fire of their own, the Pumas are a side who have gained much greater respect on the international stage and are recognised as possessing a dangerous running game of their own.

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It may not be as constant, or as all encompassing as the All Blacks but it can be effective.

All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith admits the appeal of the up-tempo game.

"Any team you are involved in I think you enjoy it when the game is played at speed. Players get a chance to test their skills and that's a team you want to be part of. You've always got to make sure you're on your game and good to go, you're looking for opportunities and that's a big part of our game," he said.

It was a bit tougher for locks and props to be running around quite so much but lock Sam Whitelock said as a tight forward it was enjoyable having the challenge in the more up-tempo style of game.

As a tight forward, scrums and lineouts were part of it but it was about pushing into the extreme areas of preparation so that good decisions could be made under duress.

It was an important asset to have, especially when playing a team like Argentina that had the flair and ability to run from anywhere, he said.
Whitelock said it was another area of the game for players to grow and to possibly get another advantage over opponents.

Smith said the All Blacks knew they had to keep their feet on the ground because the Argentinians were a real threat who would pose a lot of challenges going into Saturday.

"We've got to show them respect in how we prepare," Smith said.

Whitelock said the lineout was always being worked on. The All Blacks were happy with some parts of it in the two Australian Tests but it would require different qualities against Argentina.

It was a case of getting in front of the computer, doing the homework and seeing what they had been doing in their games against South Africa to see if there was anything they could pick up on for this week's Test.

"They've got some really good strengths there [their lineout]. They've got some big tall guys, big and strong. If you're not winning the ball in the air they obviously like driving so having a plan around how to stop that is critical," he said.

The lineout drive was one of Argentina's strengths, and every team loved playing to its strengths, he said, and there was no doubt they would probably use it.

The Rugby World Cup game between the two, which opened their respective campaigns, had demonstrated to the All Blacks the importance of having their preparation in hand and the lineout drive was one of the key areas that had to be nailed.