I am certainly learning a lot from him
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer may have downplayed the Graham Henry factor, but Argentina coach Santiago Phelan believes he is having a big influence.
The World Cup-winning former All Black mentor, Henry, has been working closely with the Pumas ahead of their participation in the inaugural Rugby Championship.
Argentina face South Africa at Newlands on Saturday in the opening round of the new Southern Hemisphere championship and the Pumas are very positive about their prospects.
While Henry is not attempting to change the character of Puma rugby, he has certainly been a handy addition to Phelan's coaching staff.
Henry worked with the Pumas in Argentina for two weeks in June, during the mid-year internationals against Italy and France and he returned for another one-week stint when they played a warm-up match ahead of their entry into the Rugby Championship.
"It was very good for us," was Phelan's candid assessment of the Kiwi's role.
"He may not have had a lot of time [with Argentina], but when he is with us it is an incredible help ... I am certainly learning a lot from him."
Phelan bemoaned the fact that Henry will not be with his team in South Africa this week or back in Argentina when they play the Springboks in the return match next week.
However, Henry will be back on board when the Pumas play in New Zealand and Australia next month, and again when the All Blacks and Wallabies visit Argentina later in the competition.
"It is a huge benefit to be with him, even though sometimes the time is limited."
Phelan spoke of the "advice" Henry gave and said the players are also "excited" to listen to such an esteemed coach, a man with a lot of success and plenty of experience.
"We want to take as much from him and ensure we take the best parts to make us a better team," the Puma mentor said, adding that Henry is certainly not attempting to change the Argentine philosophy or style.
"We spoke to him about how we function and he made it clear that Argentina should retain its core values... the [powerful] scrum, [strong] maul and [solid] defence.
"He is working a with us to ensure we can improve in the way we play with the ball, but he doesn't try and change the character of Argentina rugby.
"[Henry is] just adding little things to our team and keeping the good things that the Argentina rugby philosophy has."
The Puma coach said they are "very excited and happy" to be involved in the Rugby Championship.
"We have been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time ... to have an opportunity to get big games against the best teams in the world," he said of the next two months.
"For us the next six games are very important," Phelan said, adding: "We believe that playing against the [three] best teams in the world will help us improve ourselves.
"We are very excited as we look towards Saturday and we have worked hard to ensure we produce a good game."
By Jan de Koning