Pumas undecided about goal-kicker
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan is in two minds over who to entrust with the goal-kicking duties against the All Blacks on Saturday.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan is in two minds over who to entrust with the goal-kicking duties in Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks in La Plata.
The Pumas’ place-kicking has been an area of concern for the South Americans throughout their campaign with Phelan alternating his goal-kickers in the hopes of identifying the most consistent candidate for the task.
Phelan confirmed flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez as his first-choice sharpshooter but said the veteran would not necessarily be given the tee on Saturday.
"Juan Martin [Hernandez] and Marcelo [Bosch] are the first and second-choice goal-kickers and they will make the decision on who kicks,” said Phelan. “It is important to be effective and hopefully on Saturday they will have a good day."
Argentina have stuck to a simple, defensive game plan which has seen them remain competitive yet create few linebreaks and try-scoring opportunities.
Phelan said the key to showcasing their attacking skills lies in winning and retaining possession.
“We've been unable to carry out what we have been training due to various factors such as not having possession of the ball. We want to improve in that area in order to carry out the attack moves that we work on during the week," he said.
Phelan said while their attacking play needs work, he is pleased with his team’s defence. "Our objective is to grow game by game and improve as a team. In defence, players are confident, we are improving and as a result we will get results.”
Despite being considerable underdogs against the unbeaten All Blacks, Phelan said the pressure is mounting to record their maiden win in the Rugby Championship.
“There is pressure on us to win. This tournament has a high requirement for having to do things well and play good rugby. Pressure is part of it. "
Phelan also stressed the importance of playing producing an 80-minute performance. "It is a fact that in recent games were not efficient in the last minutes and we have to learn to play at this level and with this intensity and maintain accuracy throughout the match.
“I talked to the players and one of the objectives will be to lift our game in the latter stages and play above the level we have been. We know these are critical moments of the game and we have to improve.”