All Blacks wary of Pu­mas' pas­sion

Otago Daily Times - - Front Page -

BUENOS AIRES: Ar­gentina might not have beaten New Zealand in 25 tests but All Black teams have ex­pe­ri­enced the pas­sion of lo­cal crowds that have pushed the Pu­mas to the brink of vic­tory on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in Buenos Aires.

The teams meet at Velez Sars­field to­mor­row with the All Blacks look­ing to re­tain their Rugby Cham­pi­onship ti­tle. The Pu­mas are seek­ing their first win at the 26th at­tempt. One draw, 32 years ago, is their clos­est ef­fort.

The less ex­pe­ri­enced All Black play­ers got a taste last Sun­day of what to ex­pect at Velez.

They felt the pas­sion of Ar­gen­tine sup­port­ers while at­tend­ing a first divi­sion foot­ball match at the River Plate sta­dium where the All Blacks nar­rowly es­caped de­feat in 2001.

‘‘The home crowd will be bois­ter­ous and pas­sion­ate and just them­selves. Some of the guys went to the soc­cer on Sun­day and they ex­pe­ri­enced that,’’ All Black coach Steve Hansen said yes­ter­day.

‘‘We’ve got eight guys that haven’t been here be­fore, so a lot of them went and what I do know is the only way to keep the crowd out of it is by play­ing well and that will qui­eten them down a bit,’’ he said be­fore the team’s prac­tice.

‘‘So [the team’s] aim is to keep them quiet, but, you know, it cre­ates an at­mos­phere which is re­ally unique and one that we en­joy.’’

Hansen said All Blacks learned quickly how to han­dle be­ing favourites and the pres­sure a hos­tile crowd could gen­er­ate.

‘‘It is an ev­ery­day thing when you’re with the All Blacks. When you come into the en­vi­ron­ment, whether you are a coach, a man­ager or a player you know what’s ex­pected,’’ he said.

‘‘Doesn’t mat­ter who you play, you’re ex­pected to win and win well and the quicker you can un­der­stand that and ac­cept that, then the quicker you can deal with the pres­sure.’’

Ar­gentina has re­called veteran No 8 Juan Manuel Leguiza­mon among four changes to its team.

Win­less in four Rugby Cham­ pi­o­nship tests, Pu­mas coach Daniel Hour­cade has turned to 34­year­old Leguiza­mon to make a dif­fer­ence against the un­beaten vis­it­ing side.

Un­avail­able for this month’s 39­22 loss to New Zealand in New Ply­mouth, the tough 79­test loose for­ward re­turned off the bench for the 45­20 loss to Aus­tralia in Can­berra.

His start re­sults in de­mo­tion for flanker Javier Ortega De­sio and To­mas Lezana switches loose for­ward roles.

Leguiza­mon’s 80th test ap­pear­ance will lift him to fifth on the Ar­gentina caps record. The three­time World Cup veteran has played the All Blacks 10 times.

An­other sea­soned re­turnee is lock To­mas La­vanini, who did not tour Aus­trala­sia af­ter be­ing sent off in the home loss to South Africa last month. He re­places Matias Ale­manno.

Hour­cade con­tin­ues to ro­tate his half­backs. To­mas Cubelli will start, ahead of Martin Lan­dajo, and there is a back­three reshuf­fle. Joaquin Tu­culet re­turns at full­back, push­ing Emil­iano Bof­felli to the left wing in place of Ramiro Moy­ano.

Two proven in­ter­na­tion­als, prop Ramiro Her­rera and first five­eighth Juan Martin Her­nan­dez, re­turn from in­jury on the bench.

The Pu­mas are led again by world­class hooker Agustin Creevy.

Steve Hansen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.