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Lessons learned from 'unique' Pumas

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Sportal.co.nz     09 Sep 2012     Getty Images

"We have to get used to them and to prepare well for the future," he said of the regular match play New Zealand will have against them in the Investec Rugby Championship.

"They are unique and their style takes some getting used to. We talked about it during the week but I don't think we really understood that and I don't think we got a grip on it until towards the end of the game."

The defensive screen had been one of the more difficult patterns to undo.

"They start very tight and very narrow and give you that sideline which is much different to what we are used to in (Investec) Super Rugby and against Australia and South African teams, and then they slide really well. We will have to take that forward to the next time we play them," he said.

One way of looking at breaching their style was to commit to straightening up the attack. The nature of their defence was to force players to pass allowing them to shepherd you to the sideline.

"We need to take that space they give us and hit it up. We knew it was going to take a while to break them down. A lot of it is about their system, but it is also about the attitude and passion they bring," he said.

"They all scramble well. They are also very good at slowing the ball down. But we have to earn the right to play at the pace we want and we haven't quite got that right."

Smith, who was returning from a detached retina, said the conditions didn't make his return easy but the more the game went on the better he felt.

"It was never going to be perfect but you could say that for the whole team," he said.