Pumas to target Wallabies playmakers

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Argentina will be putting a target squarely on Bernard Foley and Quade Cooper on Saturday night, as they look to lift their defensive efforts against the Wallabies.

A slow start cost the Pumas against the Wallabies in last year’s Rugby World Cup semifinal and winger Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino said they were desperate to turn that around on Saturday.

“I think this is the idea, start playing the match and don't give easy points to Australia, put pressure on the key players, Quade Cooper, Foley,” he said.

“They have two 10s in their team and they play with really good skills so I think the idea is to put pressure on [those] players to maybe not feel comfortable and after that we take the opportunity to carry the ball as soon as possible.”

The Wallabies’ own defence had come into the spotlight in recent weeks but Amorosino said he wasn’t buying into any criticism.

“I don't think Australia have a bad defence, they’ve got good tacklers, Pocock, their number 13 [Samu Kerevi], both wingers are really good in the tackle so I think they are a really good team.

The Pumas are going to target the Wallabies' 10-12 combination. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“We need to put pressure on Australia to put up a really good defence, so after two or three phases we receive the ball again and we can start playing.”

While putting up a wall is a priority for the Pumas, Gonzalez said they wouldn’t abandon the running rugby that got them a positive 50 minutes against the All Blacks last weekend.

“Rugby is a mixture, if you've got really good attack and no defence you can't play and then you've got really good defence and no attack you can't play.

“You need to have a mix to have a good match.”

Pumas defence coach Pablo Bouza said the transition phase the Wallabies found themselves in, with three 2016 debutants in their backline, made them a difficult prospect for which to prepare.

“I don't know if they have so many as New Zealand but they have the skill and the pattern of attack is very good,” he said.

“Every match they improve something, they bring something new so it is very difficult for us to study what they're doing.

“They have some different players - Israel Folau is a great, now they are playing with two number 10s , their number nine Genia is playing really well in the championship.

“It's a very tough team for defence.”