I played in Argentina with the then New Zealand Maori in 1988 and the All Blacks in 1991 and we found it a tough place to tour back then. They are very passionate and keep their emotions close to the surface. They were always a decent side and it was just a matter of time, after entering the Rugby Championship, that they would come good. Now they have had two wins this season.
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Hugo Porta was one of the greats who steered their ship. They were renowned scrummagers. Now, under Mario Ledesma, they are playing with more breadth and width, though the All Blacks gave them a bit of a lesson in the scrums in Nelson.
I’m not making excuses for the loss to the Springboks but I’m expecting a response by the All Blacks on Sunday.
If you understand the function of what you need to do as a player, the coaches will have five bullet points as to what they have to do as an individual and as a collective, whether it be in, say, the scrums or in the loose forwards. These guys are experienced enough that they can adjust. I’m confident they’ll do a job.
South Africa won but we scored six tries to five. Did we play badly? Not really. There were a couple of glitches, but there’s no need to push the panic button or have a Sunday morning crisis meeting. Sometimes this happens. The point of difference was marginal. We know Beauden Barrett is a bit inconsistent with his goalkicking but he probably created another record for himself by hitting the posts three times in Wellington.
Who is looking forward to seeing Sonny Bill Williams back in the black jersey this weekend? ??????
Angus Ta’avao has had a meteoric rise from the start of the year when he didn’t even have a contract. That is fantastic. He was probably sitting on a beach in summer thinking he’d be doing pre-season training with his club. He’ll be nervous but excited for his pending Test debut.
There will be scrutiny on Ofa Tuungafasi as a starting tighthead, so he will want to impose himself. We know what we’ll get with Luke Whitelock at No 8, just good, solid play. He’s like the former England loose forward Richard Hill. His best game was about 85 percent and his worst was about 79 percent.
I wasn’t far off the margin last time round, so I’m comfortable with what the All Blacks are doing and think they’ll take it by 15-18 points. The Pumas are tough at home, but the All Blacks will lift their game.
Hear from All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen as he discusses his selections for the upcoming Test match against Argentina.