Rugby News

Rugby-All Blacks in dark about Pumas' recent form

SYDNEY, Nov 10 (Reuters) - New Zealand are having to rely on footage from two trial matches to do any scouting of Argentina ahead of their Tri-Nations clash on Saturday, with the South Americans not having played a test since last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Until their matches against essentially an Australia ‘A’ side over the last two weekends, many of the Pumas players had not even played any rugby since March when the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down the Super Rugby competition.

With test matches in the July window also cancelled, the Pumas were restricted to contested training runs against each other as they went through a series of camps in bio-secure facilities in Argentina, Uruguay and Australia.

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, however, said figuring out exactly how the Pumas may approach the game was an enjoyable part of the challenge for his team this week.

“They haven’t had a lot of footy to play so there’s not a heap to look at film wise,” Whitelock told reporters on a conference call.

“It has been refreshing trying to work out how they’re going to play and how we’re going to stop it. But then, also how are we going to impose our game on them.”

Centre Anton Lienert-Brown told reporters on Monday he watched some of the footage from the Pumas’ two warm-up matches and he expected the influence of former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who is a consultant to the team, would be present.

“He quite likes to play a fast-tempo game with big ball carrying forwards so I’m sure that influence will come through,” Lienert-Brown said.

“They are looking sharp. We expect them to turn up like the Pumas do normally.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury Editing by Robert Birsel