Argentina

All Blacks turn focus to Pumas

Sun, 26 Aug 2012 15:48
Allblackhakaargentina Stevehansenallblacks Conradsmithfrance
It's going to be real physical up front
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The All Blacks have turned their attention to Argentina after retaining the Bledisloe Cup in dominating fashion on Saturday.

The world champions have firmly entrenched themselves atop the Rugby Championship standings with back-to-back Bledisloe Cup victories over Australia.

They top the table on eight points, with South Africa two points adrift in second place following their shock draw with Argentina.

The Pumas are third having netted two points while the winless Wallabies head into the first bye week of the inaugural four-nation tournament as bottom dwellers.

Argentina dispelled fears that they will be mere also-rans with their historic draw with the Springboks, but their next assignment will see them travel to Wellington to face the unbeaten All Blacks on September 8.

Hansen said his charges will prepare for a physical encounter against the power-driven Pumas.

"It's going to be real physical up front," Hansen said on Sunday.

"They will play that bash game that they played last night. I can't imagine them wanting to play an expansive game.

"They are more comfortable using their forwards and that's what we'll expect but I guess we'll have to plan for the other as well."

Hansen revealed that lock Luke Romano is the only injury concern following Saturday’s 22-0 shutout but said the early signs of the shoulder injury suggest he should be fit to front Argentina.

Hansen added that stalwarts Conrad Smith and Tony Woodcock are also on target to recover from eye and rib injuries respectively in time to be in line for selection for the round three fixture.

Smith’s return will be especially pleasing for Hansen with Sonny Bill Williams playing his final Test at the weekend. Hansen said the Hurricanes captain will be rushed straight into international rugby.

"The timetable is such that his first game available will be for us," Hansen said. "We're confident in his fitness. He's proven before than he can come straight back in and do the job."

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