Rugby Championship

Why Pumas are tough at home

2014-08-21 14:38
Tiaan Liebenberg (Getty)
Cape Town - Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has revealed about what makes Argentina a tough opponent on home ground.

Liebenberg was part of the match-day squad that drew 16-16 against the Pumas in Mendoza in 2012. It was a shock result considering South Africa never lost to Argentina in their history. They also beat the same opponents 27-6 in Cape Town the week before.

In 2013, the Springboks thumped Argentina 73-13 in Soweto. However, there was another contrasting result in the reverse fixture as Heyneke Meyer’s men scraped through for a 22-17 in Mendoza, after trailing 17-13 at half-time.

This creates an interesting spectacle ahead of this season’s fixture between the two teams in Salta on Saturday, especially considering Argentina will be confident after holding the Springboks to a 13-6 win in tough conditions in Pretoria last weekend.

So what makes Argentina so tough on home soil?
Liebenberg explained that the atmosphere in South America can be very overwhelming.

“When you run onto the field, you are surrounded by 30 000 to 40 000 fans, who are all backing the home team,” Liebenberg told the MyPlayers website. “It’s like something you see in a South American soccer match. It can be very intimidating. This revs up Argentina, and their players feed of that energy.

“However, the Springboks need to back themselves this weekend. They just need to focus on themselves and get themselves into the right rhythm.

“Last week’s result wasn’t a fair reflection on what could’ve happened because of the difficult conditions on the day. The Springboks couldn’t get themselves into the rhythm because it was very tough to handle the ball. And once you struggle with that early on, it’s very difficult to build momentum. They should be able to improve and do better against Argentina on Saturday.”

Liebenberg added that the Pumas pack does have an influence on the contest, especially at the scrums.

“Looking over the years, they might not have the best front row in world rugby on paper, but Argentina have a proud tradition when it comes to scrumming. Because of that passion, they do very well at the scrums,” said Liebenberg. “It’s like their forward pack drives with the same breathe and that becomes very challenging to counter.”

Meanwhile, Liebenberg is currently sidelined with a serious back injury, which has been a repetitive problem in recent months. He made his comeback during Super Rugby, but suffered a serious tear in his disc during Western Province’s Currie Cup opener against the EP Kings.

He will see a specialist in two weeks, when a call will be made on the seriousness of the injury.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Liebenberg. “You work so hard during rehab for a few months, then recover to play a few games, only to struggle with the same injury again!

“But on the positive side, I do get to spend more time with my young family. I look after my two boys at home. We try not to get into too much trouble.”

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