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What the All Blacks expect from ‘passionate’ Los Pumas

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Assistant coach Jason Ryan is expecting a “passionate” and “aggressive” Los Pumas side when the All Blacks open their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina this weekend.

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Having flown into South America late on Sunday evening, the All Blacks appeared to be in good spirits ahead of their first Test match of 2023.

While there’s plenty of talk within the rugby community about this year’s World Cup, the All Blacks haven’t even given the prestigious event a thought.

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As a collective, the New Zealanders are firmly focused on the task at hand – and with good reason.

The All Blacks played Argentina twice in New Zealand last year and split the series with their opponents at one win apiece.

Los Pumas shocked the rugby world with a stunning seven-point win in Christchurch, which was only their second-ever win over the All Blacks – their first was two years earlier in Sydney.

While the All Blacks have long dominated the history of this matchup, which included a 29-Test unbeaten streak, Los Pumas pose a very different threat today.

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Under the tutelage of head coach Michael Cheika and defensive mastermind David Kidwell, Los Pumas have taken their game to an all-new level.

“They’re a passionate side,” Jason Ryan told RugbyPass in Mendoza. “I love the way they play and express themselves with lots of emotion and they play with a lot of pride.

“They’re really good in contact, they’re aggressive, they’ve got good variation in their game and their defensive pattern through David Kidwell I think has broken down some teams.

“It should be exciting.

“Everyone’s got to rise up for each Test match and this is no different.”

After playing Argentina this weekend, the All Blacks will return home to New Zealand where they’ll face fierce rivals South Africa in Auckland.

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Then, two weeks later, the men in black will finish their Rugby Championship campaign against Eddie Jones’ Wallabies on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

But the All Blacks are just taking it one game at a time – the group aren’t even talking about the Rugby World Cup yet according to Jason Ryan.

“We’ve just got to start The Rugby Championship well. We’ve got to get a rhythm in our game,” Ryan added.

“Respectfully, we haven’t really even talked about the World Cup this year at all, it’s the first time I’ve heard you say it.

“This is this Test match. We’ve got to get our training right today and go through our systems and make sure that we’re keeping the boys sharp and we build it accordingly.

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“This is The Rugby Championship, it’s (a) short, sharp campaign. I’m sure all teams will want to hit the ground running, we’re no different.”

The All Blacks named five uncapped bolters in their initial 36-man squad for The Rugby Championship, with Shaun Stevenson added as injury cover.

Stevenson could potentially make his debut in the black jersey in Mendoza with Will Jordan and Leicester Fainga’anuku both staying in New Zealand.

The other potential debutants include Cam Roigard, Dallas McLeod, Tamaiti Williams, Samipeni Finau and Emoni Narawa.

Hurricanes prop Tevita Mafile’o has also flown with the squad to Argentina.

“It can be quite intimidating coming into the All Blacks as a newbie but I think we’ve made a couple of shifts in here in making sure we’re welcoming the guys in.

“The experienced guys have been outstanding in bringing guys up to speed in their own position and sharing knowledge and understanding what the legacy is about of the All Blacks and the black jersey.

“We’ve seen some good, quality sessions there.

“As well as understanding their role, they’ve just got to appreciate pretty quickly that they’ve just got to do their own job and do it well.

“They’re talented, that’s because they’re here, and the intensity goes up so the quicker they learn off the grass, the easier it’ll be for them.”

The All Blacks take on Los Pumas at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza at 7.10 am NZST on Sunday morning.

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2 Comments
J
Jmann 380 days ago

All I expect is a decent ref (granted with Gardner) and an Argentinian team that keeps the off-the-ball stuff to a minimum.

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Turlough 4 hours ago
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