Argentina

Pumas receive Welsh backing

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 18:55
Robinmcbryde

Wales forward coach Robin McBryde says it would be no shock to see next up opponents Argentina go one better than Wales and beat Australia in the final round of the inaugural Rugby Championship in Rosario this weekend.

Both the Pumas (10 November) and the Wallabies (1 December) travel to the Millennium Stadium as part of Wales’ end-of-year Test schedule - which will also see the Six Nations Grand Slam champions face Samoa (16 November) and New Zealand (24 November) - so McBryde has been keeping a close eye on future opponents in the recent Rugby Championship matches.

All Black head coach Steve Hansen has already predicted trouble ahead for the Wallabies this weekend, whilst Springboks boss Heyneke Meyer says the world's third-placed side are facing an ambush at the hands of the Pumas.

Argentina led Australia 19-6 midway through their previous match on the Gold Coast and the Wallabies have since lost Berrick Barnes (lung), Adam Ashley-Cooper (concussion) and Quade Cooper (knee) to injury and also have Radike Samo (shoulder), Digby Ioane (knee) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (head, shoulder) in doubt.

And now McBryde is backing the South Americans to arrive in Cardiff having achieved something which eluded Wales on three attempts down under in June - victory over the Wallabies.

"I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see them get that first elusive win. They are without doubt a top rugby nation and have proved themselves already in the Rugby Championship," said McBryde.

"They were impressive against the Springboks and managed to come away with a draw and they have run the Wallabies close already, getting to within a try of winning. They will gain confidence from that and from the way they started against New Zealand last weekend and I think things are going to be pretty intense for Australia in Rosario.

"The atmosphere in Buenos Aires at the weekend was tremendous and Argentina is always a difficult place to go. It could come down to how well Australia travel and it will certainly not be a shock to see the Pumas beat them and get that first win in the Championship on home soil.

"We have been saying in Wales for a long time now that it is only by testing ourselves against the best teams that we are going to get better ourselves. That is why we have taken on all the tough fixtures we could and this November will be no different.

"Argentina are going down that route now too with the Rugby Championship and it can only work in their favour."

The Pumas (eighth) are sitting just two places behind Wales (sixth) in the IRB World Rankings and McBryde believes the South Americans will be targeting victory in Cardiff in order to send a message around the rugby watching world.

"They will be coming here wanting to show how much they've improved based on their experiences of intense competition in the Rugby Championship," said McBryde.

"They have been competitive against all three of the top teams in world rugby and that is only going to benefit them. Graham Henry has been down there and you can see his influence when you look at the high standard of their defensive displays.

"They scored two tries against the All Blacks at the weekend, which is no easy feat and they'll want to prove a point and show the world that they are an improved side.

“There's no better way to do that than to come up against the current Grand Slam champions and beat them in their own backyard - that's why the first game up will be very important to us too."

Wales are targeting the November Tests as a chance to get back to winning ways after returning empty handed from their tour to Australia.

McBryde is philosophical about the 3-0 Test Series defeat to the Wallabies. Whilst taking some consolation in the performances produced by his side in each Test, the former international hooker is not satisfied with just getting close to victory.

"From our point of view we learnt a lot from the Australia tour. But as close as the three-match series was, we lost the games and we have been there before in terms of being so close but yet so far," added McBryde.

"We want to go somewhere we haven't been before and that means beating the top teams in the world and doing it consistently. We know we have got to be at our best right from the outset this November otherwise Argentina could catch us cold."

The Wales squad for the end-of-year Tests is set to be announced on Monday, October 22, a week before the party travel to Poland for a week-long training camp at the specialist athlete training centre in Spala, which was their home for three weeks prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

"It's very important for us to start well, we have a demanding series. That's why we are going to Poland for the hard work and to develop that mental edge," said McBryde.

"The Pumas will be hugely competitive and it's very important for us to get off on the right foot. Particularly with the three games which follow against Samoa, the All Blacks and the Wallabies, there will be no hiding place for us."

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