Pumas wary of All Blacks backlash

Argentina are taking little comfort from the All Blacks’ scratchy performance in their first rugby Test of the year.

Instead, coach Daniel Hourcade is bracing for a backlash after New Zealand struggled to a 25-16 win over Samoa in Apia last week.

Hourcade was aware that the All Blacks had rested their Highlanders and Hurricanes contingents because of the Super Rugby final.

“But I prefer them to have a good game and not a bad game,” he said.

“Now surely, they are going to correct what they have done. That’s why they are the best team in the world.”

Hourcade’s line-up to face the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Christchurch on Friday night includes three players new to the tournament.

However, winger Santiago Cordero, No.8 Facundo Isa and lock Guido Petti Pagadizabal, who are in the starting 15, all have Test experience.

The 23-strong match squad also contains 15 players who have signed to play for the country’s new Super Rugby franchise next year, among them hooker and skipper Agustin Creevy.

The All Blacks and Argentina have met 20 times before, for 19 New Zealand wins and a 21-21 draw in Buenos Aires in 1985.

Hourcade said the Pumas would have to be perfect, and hope the All Blacks have a bad day, to break their duck this week.

“The great advantage the All Blacks have is they do everything well,” he said.

“If you make a little mistake, they are ready to take advantage of it.”

Hourcade said the Argentine scrum remained an important part of their strategy and a platform for dominating the opposition mentally.

But it was only one aspect of the game and the Pumas had also been working on increasing the attacking options in their back play.

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