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All Blacks tread warily ahead of Argentina

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Lynn McConnell     06 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Having lost both of their opening games against South Africa, and struggled in their June series against England B, Argentina were an unknown factor, lock Brodie Retallick said.
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Some of their Super Rugby form hadn't transferred into international play but in previous Tests between the two countries the All Blacks had struggled to put them away, especially when travelling to Argentina, Retallick said.

There was a little bit of the unknown heading into Saturday's Test but they had been working hard and looking through footage of the Pumas in action, especially their two Tests against South Africa.

"Hopefully it's not too much of a surprise on Saturday night," he said.

"I think they've still got that Argentinian flair, they're still looking to have a crack from wherever. We all know what some of their forwards' skills are like and their backs are pretty tactically sound.

"I guess the Springboks found a few holes but in the opening couple of rounds the Wallabies found a couple of holes in our defence, so no doubt they've been working hard to fix that and we'll find out on Saturday night," he said.

The Pumas had not enjoyed the same dominance through their scrum against the Springboks and Retallick said it was hard to tell if that was a drop-off in form by the Pumas or a significant improvement by the Springboks.

"They really thrive off their scrum or maul so we will really try and dictate terms there like the Springboks did because if you let them get a sniff there they punish us all day," he said.

Leadership development in the side was an on-going process and Retallick said it tended to be a reflection of longevity in the side and a progression through the team along with an accumulation of age and wisdom.

So when players like Ben Smith and Owen Franks were no longer available other players had to step up when they might not otherwise have done that.

Retallick said fellow lock Scott Barrett had shown from the time he played his first Test that in scoring a try on debut it had been the result of running good lines.

His skill work was good and he did his homework and was pushing Retallick and Sam Whitelock along.

"I think that's what makes the All Blacks team great, people are always pushing to play so whoever gets the opportunity I'm sure they'll grab it," he said.

Barrett said every day in the All Blacks environment provided challenges and he looked up to Retallick and Whitelock because they had been in the All Blacks for a long time and were rated among the best players in the world.

"It's pretty awesome and I'm always learning off them," he said.

Should he get to play this weekend, Barrett would relish the opportunity to run out on Yarrow Stadium, the ground he had grown up on, and felt it would be a special feeling to be able to play in front of family and friends, especially his parents who wouldn't have to travel any more than 30 minutes to the game compared to some of the other trips they had undertaken.