Pumas face psychological challenge in Canberra

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Pumas have enlisted psychology experts at Super Rugby and Test level to help them take the next step internationally, with their next litmus test coming against Australia.

Argentina is in the second leg of its New Zealand-Australia tour, with many of the Pumas squad having already undergone the gruelling schedule the Jaguares face in Super Rugby.

They led the All Blacks midway through the second half in New Plymouth last weekend but were ultimately run down, an effort that replicated  their opening clash on tour last year, before they went down to the Wallabies in Perth.

Pumas halfback Martin Landajo said the thousands of kilometres of travel took a mental toll, and they had put extra focus on combatting those issues this year.

“We've been working a lot in Super Rugby we've been having a lot of people specialising in mental work, so it's a good thing. It's just new for us,” he said

“In the past we just played rugby, we just trained and got into the field and this year, maybe the last time, we've been talking about the mental thing and we've been working on it.”

Landajo said the Pumas had learned from their failings last season, where they found themselves on the back foot in Perth after an impressive effort against the All Blacks.

“We came here to Australia, we lost very easily, they played very well and we didn't handle the game so well,” he said.

“We tried to change the mental thing, we train well, we're committed to the game but our head or mental part is the one that falls a bit, whether someone is tired, or we want to go back home.

“So, we talked a lot about that, we have little opportunity to train, so we talked a lot and watched lots of video and I think it's more mental.”

Landajo said the Jaguares’ success in their most recent trip to Australia showed the importance of improving their mettle.

“The end of the season of Super Rugby, we had competed for nothing, but still we talk about the mental thing and I think we did two very good mental games," he said.

“Our team is a good team that play good rugby but when our head is in another place, we don't play well.”

Those mentality issues have reared their head when it comes to discipline in recent times, and though they fell apart in that area in their second Test agaisnt the Springboks, it’s an issue that the Pumas are working hard on.

Their fiery forwards will be tested in that area in Canberra on Saturday night, with lock Guido Petti prepared for a tough battle in tight.

“They (the Wallabies) like the lineout and the maul, so maybe the battle is in there because of the maul,” he said.

“The one that really wins the battle in the forwards or the one-to-one is the one that is going to take the match.”

The Wallabies take on Argentina on Saturday September 16, kicking off at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORT, Network Ten, Win and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.