Pumas must 'tackle' Boks
Argentina can't afford defensive frailties to slip into their game when they start their Rugby Championship campaign in South Africa.
Argentina can't afford the defensive frailties of the past 10 days to slip into their game when they start their Rugby Championship campaign in South Africa later this month.
The Pumas beat touring French club Grenoble twice - 56-22 at the weekend and 44-21 the week before - at Estadio Bicentenario, Catamarca.
Argentinean coach Daniel Hourcade admitted his team's defence was not always on par in the two training matches - which completed their pre-season build-up to the Rugby Championship that gets underway when they take on the Springboks in Pretoria on August 16.
"We wanted to focus a lot on our attack, but that did not mean we neglected defence," Hourcade said.
He said the mishaps on defence at the weekend can be put down to individual errors, rather than a breakdown in the defensive system of the Pumas.
"We had a hiccup [on defence] that we can not afford, given the qualify of the opposition we will face," he said.
"At times we had good passages of play and we generated some good tries," the coach said, adding: "However, I think we lacked the ability to slow down and control the game.
"Now we will face the best teams in the Southern Hemisphere and we have to improve significantly against them."
Speaking about the trip to South Africa, the coach remained optimistic, despite admitting it will tough to overcome the Boks on their home turf.
"The key will be to not let them get comfortable, tackle [defend well] and not let them play," Hourcade said, adding: "I have a lot of confidence in the team."
He said in general the preparation for the trip to the Republic was "good", but the opposition is at the end of a Super Rugby season that means thy will be in good shape.
"The [26-man] squad is very good and I'm very happy with the players that have come up into the national team," he said.
Hourcade has dispensed with all but a handful of the 2007 World Cup semifinalists and many of the 2011 quarterfinalists.
He named a 26-man tour party that, a few hardened veterans apart, has emerged from the Pampas XV that played in South Africa's Vodacom Cup for several seasons and won this year's Pacific Rugby Cup in Australia.
"That creates a good problem to coach, but the group grows," he said of his selection changes.
"There are players competing for places, but also help each other. We can build a good team from this."
New captain Agustin Creevy said he was happy with the warm-up matches, but knows they will have to improve significantly ahead of the away and home encounters with the Boks this month.
"We played well at times," he said of the two victories over the French club.
However, he admitted they were inaccurate in certain aspects of their game and will also have to work on their conditioning.
"We have to improve on a number of things - like defence, offensive rucks and communicate better to ensure we maintain the defensive lines," Creevy said.
He said the two Tests against the Boks will be like "war" and admitted defence will be key to their hopes of success.
"We must be patient with ball in hand, because they are strong on defence. We must remain calm, play our game and stick to our game plan. "
He said the that while they will always play to win, one of their goals is to continuing growing and building towards the World Cup in England next year.