Rugby Championship

Wallabies wary of Pumas threat

2014-09-11 07:44
Ewen McKenzie (AFP)

Gold Coast - Australia have not lost to Argentina in eight Tests over 17 years and the Wallabies are anxious to avoid becoming the Pumas' first scalp in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Argentina have had an unforgiving introduction to the series where they are yet to win in 15 Tests over three seasons against southern hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, but they have come close.

The Wallabies have lost four times in 21 encounters with Argentina, but only once at home, 31 years ago when they fell 18-3 in Brisbane. It is something they do not want to repeat on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Argentina have come close to registering their debut win, going down 33-31 to the Springboks in Salta last month, and have earned kudos for their belligerent forward play.

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has recognised that threat by rushing seasoned hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau into his pack to help counter the Pumas' driving mauls and potent scrum.

"You have to deal with the confrontational parts of the game. I think they see every game as an opportunity. They're just hungry for their first win," McKenzie said.

Wallabies lock Rob Simmons put it more succinctly: "We don't want to be that team (that loses).

"We need to be on our game and really bring it this weekend, for the tight five anyway."

Australia can ensure they move away from the bottom of the series standings and even climb to second spot if they put away the Pumas on Saturday.

"We've got some really good players to put pressure on (the Pumas) but they've defended well in their three games to date," McKenzie said.

"You're going to have to be accurate, that's the one thing we want to improve from last week (against South Africa), it's being a bit more clinical.

"There are subtle differences week to week but we've got a core game that works and everyone trusts, we just have to make sure we execute it a bit better."

Apart from Polota-Nau, McKenzie made two other enforced changes with Peter Betham replacing injured winger Adam Ashley-Cooper (neck) and Ben McCalman at number eight for Wycliff Palu (concussion).

The Wallabies squeaked home 24-23 with a last-gasp converted try over the Springboks in Perth last weekend and will be looking for a more clinical performance against the 12th-ranked Pumas.

Argentina have made two changes in the backs with Racing Metro winger Juan Imhoff and youngster Manuel Montero coming in to the starting side for Horacio Agulla and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino respectively.

Rookie Matias Alemanno replaces the suspended Tomas Lavinini in the second row.

Imhoff, 26, has scored 12 tries for the Pumas in 21 appearances, while Montero has scored 13 tries from 15 Tests since his debut in 2012.

"We want to give opportunities and minutes to all in the squad in a process that ends with the World Cup 2015," coach Daniel Hourcade said.

"We have to keep the good things we have done and then correct the things that we didn't do well, like the match against New Zealand."

Argentina were left frustrated by a disallowed try which they believe could have change the course of their Test won by the All Blacks 28-9 last weekend.

Former Wallabies coach John Connolly believes Argentina are starting to come to terms with the demands of playing the world's top three teams.

"They look better prepared to me, they look fitter and they appear to have more depth," Connolly said.



15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne,10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Kurtley Beale


15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza

Substitutes: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Rodrigo Baez, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino


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