Matera hopes for Pumas upset of All Blacks

Pumas young gun Pablo Matera knows defeating the All Blacks on home soil will require a Herculean effort but the flanker isn’t willing to give up hope.

The All Blacks have never lost to Argentina, winning 21 times and drawing once.

They’ve also piled on points against Los Pumas when on Kiwi soil, scoring more than six tries a game on average.

The two sides will meet again in Hamilton on Saturday for the Rugby Championship, and Matera isn’t under any illusions as to the scale of the challenge.

His side would need to be perfect from the first minute to have even a slim chance of victory.

But he wouldn’t write the Pumas off after their surprise win over the Springboks in Salta two weeks ago.

“If it wasn’t possible, we wouldn’t be here,” the 23-year-old Matera told NZN.

“They’re the best team in the world and always play at a high level so it’s going to be really tough, really intense and quick.”

Matera and many of his Pumas teammates have just come off a maiden Super Rugby season with the Jaguares, winning four of their 15 regular season games.

Although the results were disappointing, Matera said Jaguares players had successfully adapted to the higher Super Rugby standard.

They were now capable of playing a more expansive style in the blue and white.

“We were always a really defensive team and now we’re trying to be more offensive,” Matera said.

“Now we’re a team that tries to play with more speed and play from all parts of the field.”

Pumas No.8 Facundo Isa echoed his fellow loose forward’s remarks.

Jaguares players had matured considerably over the course of 2016, he said, which gave them the confidence to take on New Zealand.

“Super Rugby gave us experience which was important to many of us to confront the different styles in different countries,” Isa said.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen paid Argentina the ultimate compliment on Thursday, declaring the South Americans a formidable foe.

He was impressed by Los Pumas’ sense of purpose with the ball and newfound attacking flair.

But hooker Dane Coles said he’d continue to focus on neutralising Argentina’s traditional strengths in defence and at the set piece.

The All Blacks’ tight five had been working hard to prepare for Los Pumas’ driving scrum, while Coles had been honing his lineout throws.

The 29-year-old couldn’t wait to take on opposing No.2 Agustin Creevy.

“You give these guys dominance at scrum time with their drive, and then they’ve got some world class backs and great offloads … we know what’s coming,” Coles said.

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