The Autumn Internationals Preview: Argentina
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Argentina sent a warning sign to their Northern Hemisphere opponents last weekend with a resounding win over Japan in Tokyo. After a disappointing Rugby Championship, could Los Pumas be poised to do some damage to Wales, Scotland and England in the coming weeks?
What to look out for
Some signs of improvement. The Pumas have now spent five seasons in the Rugby Championship and this year the majority of the squad played Super Rugby with the Jaguares. In theory that experience should have made them a stronger side, but – win over the Springboks in Salta aside – it didn’t really show in the Rugby Championship. Their 54-20 rout of Japan last week was more like it.
Argentina have a tremendous spine and are at their most dangerous from open play. When the game loses its structure and they get an opportunity to toss the ball around a bit they can score from anywhere on the park.
Weirdly, given the prevailing stereotypes about the Pumas pack, their scrummaging too often let them down in the Rugby Championship. The wily Northern Hemisphere front-rowers will look to exploit this to their advantage.
Daniel Hourcade’s job is not in any danger but he needs a strong showing in the Autumn Internationals for his 2016 to be considered a success. Since he took the reins in 2013 Argentina have yet to register wins over Wales, Scotland or England.
Player to watch
23-year-old loose forward Facundo Isa was one of standout performers of the Jaguares’ debut Super Rugby campaign, he should cause a few headaches for his Northern Hemisphere opponents.
Best chance of an upset
England’s injury problems are a concern and they may already have one eye on their clash with Australia the following weekend when they meet Argentina at Twickenham on November 26. If they’re not careful Argentina could spoil the party.
A win, a loss and a draw, but it’s a lottery which one comes against whom.
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