Argentinians wary of breakdown assault

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Argentina flanker Pablo Matera can’t wait to lock horns with Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper this weekend.

Matera played at blindside flanker against the All Blacks, but has proven himself on both sides of the scrum and said he was looking forward to testing himself against Hooper on Saturday.

“We always watch our opponents' stats and everything and Michael Hooper's stats are amazing, he's a player that runs a lot everywhere, really complete player,” Matera said in Canberra.

“I think it's a good challenge to play against those kinds of players.”Michael Hooper and the Wallabies struggled at the breakdown against the Springboks. Photo: WalmsleySouth Africa proved effective at the breakdown in last Saturday’s 23-23 draw in Perth, Australia unable to gain much momentum from the ruck, with ineffective cleanouts and little support.

Though Matera said they wouldn’t necessarily be targeting the Wallabies’ breakdown, the Jaguares’ wins over the Rebels and Waratahs during the Super Rugby season gave him confidence they could get on top.

“The Wallabies has been always an issue (for us) with the breakdown - (David) Pocock, Hooper, a lot of players that go for the ball and I think that's why we are working a lot on that,” he said.

“With the Jaguares we have to play Waratahs and Rebels in two weeks and we beat those two teams and we were concerned about the breakdown and we really worked at that very well.”

David Pocock was missing when the Wallabies last played Argentina and is currently in Japan playing Top League as part of a year-long sabbatical.

His absence has been felt in the Wallabies’ turnover stats but Matera said Australia still presented a threat.

“For me he's the best player in the world in the breakdown,” he said.

“Obviously different playing with him or not with him but Australia last year had a lot of good players at the breakdown, so I think they still are a really good team.”

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