The quick questions: Los Pumas están sobre nosotros

Yes, the Pumas are upon us. They’ve been quietly going about their business in camp in South America, and have travelled halfway around the world after half their squad contracted COVID-19. They’ve been training in Sydney for a month, and now after the best part of seven months, we will finally see some Argentinean rugby […]

The quick questions: Los Pumas están sobre nosotros

Yes, the Pumas are upon us.

They’ve been quietly going about their business in camp in South America, and have travelled halfway around the world after half their squad contracted COVID-19. They’ve been training in Sydney for a month, and now after the best part of seven months, we will finally see some Argentinean rugby again.

To say it hasn’t been the ideal build-up would be the understatement of the year. Yet Mario Ledesma and his squad have just got on with the job and will be coming into their first Test match of 2020 with on clear intention:

Beat New Zealand.

Teams will be out at some point today, and then we’ll find out just how competitive Los Pumas will be in the Tri-Nations tournament.

Over to the panel. Nobes has been waiting all year for this chance to educate us all.

Question 1

Argentina have been tuning up in the beachside suburbs of Sydney and via a couple of warm-up games against Australian selections. But now that they will face New Zealand and Australia on alternate weekends for the next month, what would be a realistic expectation of their performance in the Tri-Nations?

Nobes
The conditions to open the Tri-Nations are not ideal for Los Pumas who will have to face a team that they never beat, without having played previous matches and with their players spread over two continents who were only able to get together and train all together last week.

On the other hand, the All Blacks have already played four games and their players have been playing rugby in their respective teams for several months.

Anyway, you have to celebrate being able to be in Australia and start the road to France playing against teams of the highest level. A dream for the time that we are living in and for many of the 45 players who are in Australia, it is their first experience.

Investigating a little the starting team would be the next Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya and the return of Gomez Codela after seven years to the Pumas.

Guido Petty, Matias Alemano and Tomas Lavanini did not travel due to injury. Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera and Rodrigo Bruni are in since Facundo Isa is not fully fit and will not play this match.

With the duo of Tomas Cubelli and Nicolas Sanchez driving, the problems are in the centre since Matias Moroni did not travel and Jeronimo De la Fuente has been training in a different way with some discomfort. In the last training match the debutants Lucio Cid and Santiago Chocobares played, but Matias Orlando is available too.

There is plenty of quality for the back three but I think Santiago Carreras will be the full-back, and Juan Imhoff and Emiliano Boffelli will play if he recovers in time. There are also Bautista Delguy, Sebastian Cancelieri and Santiago Cordero for those positions.

Seeing these players and putting them with those dressing in black one by one is going to be very difficult because in the individual duels there is a clear advantage for New Zealand.

The fact that the All Blacks lost last week does not help. When was the last time the men from New Zealand lost two consecutive games?

I hope that Los Pumas can handle the set pieces well, the question is the scrum since the line did not change too much, and watch if the modified defensive system works.

(Photo by Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images)

I am sure that the players will show plenty of enthusiasm on the turf and perhaps there is a surprise factor since nobody has seen them play since Japan and we do not know much about what they may have practiced in the short time with the players who came from the old continent and those already in Australia. The concern is the natural lack of rhythm and if they can physically endure the 80 minutes of play where the All Blacks and Wallabies have a very intense style.

Well, Los Pumas like to be the underdogs and they have been that for a while, so let’s give them a slim chance.

In fact, after watching John Rahm’s hole-in-one at Augusta, I think Los Pumas do have a chance. Anything is possible!

Dan
As far as I’m concerned, Los Pumas are playing without expectation – if anything, they’ve already exceeded them by turning up for the tournament in the first place. With four games in as many weeks, team changes will be required game-to-game, so there’s a clear opportunity to blood some new players.

But expectations? No.

They’ve never beaten the All Blacks and aren’t going to do it on the back of a couple of warm-ups against Australia A, and the disparity in preparation makes toppling the Wallabies a long shot too.

Digger
They really have little expectation, the Pumas, so they really can just go out there and enjoy themselves.

They will of course have their own high expectations of themselves but I am really unsure how to quantify what would be a satisfactory performance.

Implementing quality structures and showing great attitude and resolve in defence would be enough for me as certainly, winning seems a step too far.

Geoff
Only the coldest of heart and Ian Foster could not want the Pumas to perform well this week. Their squad has inhabited a different universe to that of the All Blacks and Wallabies, and they go into this championship with a disparity in preparation never seen before in SANZAAR history.

They cannot possibly hope to beat the All Blacks, if they do it will rugby’s biggest-ever upset. And the Wallabies now, taking steps forward, will surely accommodate them as well.

But the Pumas have turned up and that is already a victory. Despite missing a number of key players, there is still talent to burn and there will be pride and determination to match.

Brett
If you offered Mario Ledesma one win in this Tri-Nations tournament, I bet he’d be publicly offended. But then, he’d catch up with you in the car park and make sure the offer was still there. His former Randwick number eight assistant would be in the background asking if he could nominate which one.

But Argentina are a proud rugby nation, without question, and pride will quite likely push them deep into their two opening matches.

Beyond that, depth and fitness are going to be their biggest challenge. They got better through the two warm-up games against Australia A, or the McClennan XV, or whatever they were called, but New Zealand and Australia after a month of Test rugby are several steps up in class.

Nicolas Sanchez

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

That all said, I just have this pit in my stomach that Los Pumas have a win in them.

I just pray it doesn’t mean what I fear it might!

Harry
Los Pumas are a change of pace.

The All Blacks have been fixated on Harry’s tight pants, Gus’s bell, Jordan’s pitter-patta, Nic’s stache, the lost L in Philip and when Taniela Tupou comes on.

So the element of surprise may help. Isi or isi not going to be good? Hell if I know. Probably a Blacklash.

Question 2

And after their best performance of the international season on Saturday night, does this weekend off help or hinder the Wallabies for the rest of the tournament?

Dan
Neither.

It doesn’t let them build on the momentum from last Saturday straight away, but it also gives some battered bodies a chance to rest up before the last two matches of the year. It’ll also provide Dave Rennie with more opportunity to think about how he wants to tinker with the team, and which squad members who haven’t got a run yet will see some action against Argentina.

Digger
Neither or both, really don’t know.

If I had to pick one, it would be a hindrance. One automatically wants to build on their success and the additional wait may prove frustrating and difficult to keep that momentum firing.

Hopefully, the rest will prove the opposite as fine-tuning can be applied.

Geoff
The weekend off comes at a good time for the Wallabies.

They get to savour last week’s win, but not to the extent of clouding their next preparation – suddenly finding themselves two days out from another Test, floating like they’re on top of the world, perhaps believing all the press. This way, Dave Rennie and his coaching team get the luxury of having all of that wash out of the system at its own pace, before early next week switching the camp back into full-on Test preparation mode.

Dave Rennie

(Andrew Phan/supplied by Rugby Australia)

And like a golfer watching his playing partner putt first on the same line, the Wallabies get a free look at any twists and turns the Pumas might offer.

Brett
I’m sure they would have liked to play again on Monday this week after that win in Brisbane, but a weekend off refreshing among the vineyards in the Hunter Valley will do them good.

Let’s face it, a weekend off refreshing among the vineyards in the Hunter Valley works wonders even for teetotallers.

The challenge is going to be how quickly they can regain their required level of intensity ahead of facing Argentina next weekend, and working out which bodies might need a game off.

The likes of Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Matt Philip, Harry Wilson, Nic White, and Marika Koroibete have played a fair bit of intense footy of late, and though they’d hate the idea, there would be merit in sitting them out. Same applies to the captain, but good luck to anyone trying to tell Michael Hooper to miss a game.

But on the other hand, they all need to get back on the horse, too. If Test Match rugby were easy, everyone would play it.

Get back on the horse. Win well next weekend.

Harry
I’m sure the rest is best.

That was a street fight.

Source : The Roar More   

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Who should be the All Black 13?

Since the era of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, the All Blacks are yet to find a similarly devastating midfield combo. They may have selected many players at 13 for general footballing ability instead of the skillsets required for the position. Their current incumbent to fill the 13 jersey, Anton Lienert-Brown, is a great player […]

Who should be the All Black 13?

Since the era of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, the All Blacks are yet to find a similarly devastating midfield combo.

They may have selected many players at 13 for general footballing ability instead of the skillsets required for the position. Their current incumbent to fill the 13 jersey, Anton Lienert-Brown, is a great player but I simply feel that 13 may not be the right place for him and that vice versa, he may not be the right 13 for the All Blacks.

I am a fan of Lienert-Brown, but the statistical summary of his performance just seemed a little wrong for a 13. The attacking gameplay statistics are summarised by the acronym KRP (kick-run-pass). Here is Lienert-Brown’s KRP: he had zero kicks from hand, three carries (runs) that made six metres and zero passes.

Meanwhile, in defence, his defensive solidity played up excellently, with 14 out of 15 completed tackles and three turnovers won. His tackle count is excellent considering that he had to mark Jordan Petaia, one of the best-running 13s anyone could find.

However, his kicking and passing just seem wrong. Such a limited attacking influence just is not the kind of performance you want from a class 13.

He is an extremely good strike runner with pace, power and agility to crack the line. In that sense, as an open-running 13 he is one of the best 13s in the world. Defensively, he is one of the most consistent you can find in those tackles. Though he went backwards in contact at times during the Bledisloe, he made decently good reads and big tackles on his opposite number to kill Petaia’s options.

However, he is not great as a playmaking 13. He is a short/medium passer and I have not seen much long distribution from him. This is one aspect of the 13 game that Lienert-Brown is lacking in. He has the general ball skill excellence and proficiency, but the 13 channel is the place with space to be exploited.

The All Black alignment in midfield has Richie Mo’unga usually acting as first receiver with all the strike options at his disposal. They have Jack Goodhue as a wide passing platform and strike runner, while Lienert-Brown is a bruiser/stepper. Beauden Barrett is out wide as he is a visionary in broken play with one of the wingers.

As it is, the job of a 13 comprises three aspects: ball carrier, key defender and playmaker/wide distributor. Lienert-Brown fits two of the three perfectly. Maybe since Goodhue is the wide passing platform, his job is a short playmaker and not a wide distributor. His passing is short and fast. His carrying often compensated for his lack of long passes.

So, if Lienert-Brown does not completely fit the prototype of a 13, who does?

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He could play 12 with short playmaking and crash-ball and maybe a shuffled alignment with the 13 to pass wide if needed.

We have Peter Umaga-Jenson, a fast man who has the pace of a wing and great feet in attack. Then we have Braydon Ennor, who is good at club level with the pace, however, I think that he is more of a utility back.

In my opinion, there are only two other realistic options for complete 13s that are Test quality – Jack Goodhue and Rieko Ioane. Joanne has been a 13 before he was a wing and his preferred position is in outside centre. In his only start at 13 this year, he made two carries, three passes, and zero kicks. Goodhue has made some great passes and great moments this Bledisloe series, but he has been a little inconsistent – just hot and cold.

On the other hand, there may be no need for a player to completely fit the skillset prototype of a 13. Lienert-Brown could play 13 as a short playmaker, key defender and ball carrier.

Source : The Roar More   

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