All Blacks face endurance battle at scrums

Argentina’s scrummaging prowess presents a test of stamina not found in Super Rugby, veteran All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu says.

Mealamu is bracing for another physical battle at set piece against the Pumas in the Rugby Championship opener in Christchurch on Friday night.

“They scrum a lot longer than what we’ve been used to in Super Rugby,” he said.

“We’ve seen a few video clips that run up to 20 seconds and that’s quite a bit longer.”

Mealamu said it wasn’t a case of the Pumas trying different angles or other tactics to get supremacy.

“They’re just a good, solid scrum that scrums for a long time,” the 36-year-old said.

Six of Mealamu’s 124 caps have been against Argentina and he described the effort required to counter the Pumas’ scrummaging as akin to lifting or pushing something at close to maximum effort for 20 seconds.

“We just have to make sure we don’t step back, we don’t pull out of the fight early,” he said.

“We have to stay in the fight and put it back on them.”

Mealamu’s opposite will be Pumas skipper Agustin Creevy, a player for whom he has plenty of respect.

“He’s right up there for me and he seems to be growing every year,” he said.

“He an all-round player with great leadership skills.”

Coach Steve Hansen has kept largely the same pack that started the patchy 25-16 win over Samoa last week.

The one change is the inclusion of lock Brodie Retallick for Sam Whitelock.

Mealamu said producing a more clinical display would be the forwards’ target at AMI Stadium.

“We really enjoyed last week, but it was a long time since we had played together,” he said.

“So it’s just putting the rust aside and making sure we can really sharpen up our lineout and add some potency to our scrum as well. It’s just the simple things done really well.”

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