Respect for Argentina has All Blacks wary

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Lynn McConnell     27 Sep 2016     Getty Images

Assistant coach Ian Foster said dealing with Argentina's approach from the outset would be important in Sunday's (NZT) rematch in Buenos Aires.


At the same time Argentina had shown they were worthy of greater respect as their game develops.

"You really have to give a lot of credit to Argentina," Foster said.

"They really played with a great attitude in that first 40 and took it to us, they off-loaded well, they played a high continuity game and they kept the ball moving and a lot of off-loads and they did it very, very well.

"They continued that last week [against Australia] and they would probably be a little disappointed they weren't able to capitalise a little bit more on some of the opportunities they had but they are a good team when they are able to do that," he said.

The All Blacks had taken time to adapt to that. Foster said the management were not surprised at the Pumas' effectiveness in that ploy because they had seen the growth in their game.
"But they had been better at it than what we expected, so good on them," he said.

Field territory and set piece had been a traditional part of Argentina's game but they had now become a high possession percentage team.

"They like playing with the ball in hand, they trust their retention, their recycling and that seems to be their game. I don't think that will change. As they go through the Rugby Championship I think they will probably back themselves to keep growing that part of it so I would expect it to carry on going this Saturday," he said.

As regards selection this week, Foster said the selectors were looking to maintain the tempo in the side but with some possible changes, with a new blindside flanker needed in place of the injured Jerome Kaino.


Foster said Kaino had been outstanding for the All Blacks this year and was playing as well as he ever had but he knew that whoever replaced him would be very excited to have the opportunity. Foster added that Kaino was expected to benefit from the week off and to be available again next week in South Africa.

"We're not keen to make changes just for the sake of making changes, we're keen to make changes to try to improve our performance. So, when that's your main driver we're just looking at energy levels and where everyone is sitting.

"We've got to make sure if we want to continue to grow our game and for the next half of the season, we've still got seven more Test matches, we need to make sure we're managing our resources so that we can play at that tempo and at that quality.

"Whereas if we put the same guys out there every single week with all the travel coming up that's when we're fearful we might drop off a bit," he said.

It was also recognition that different types of game were required for different opposition but that was part of the selectors' expectation that players learnt to adapt and be good enough to perform against whoever they were playing, Foster said.