Not long ago, Super Rugby’s Jaguares were looking to their Australasian counterparts for blueprints of success, but it might just be the Argentinians who are the inspiration for the Waratahs this weekend.
The Jaguares have returned to Argentina this week, after a four-out-of-four Australia and New Zealand tour, with the latter two wins on Kiwi soil especially impressive.
A victory in New Zealand is something Australia’s teams haven’t found in recent seasons, and Waratahs forward Tom Robertson said there was definitely something to be learned from the Jaguares, led by former Waratahs and Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma.
“Their forward pack has played very well over there, they've stepped up at scrum time and at maul time,” he said.
“They've kept it in close, because they know certainly from a Jaguares' perspective, their forward packs their strength and if they try and play an absolute Kiwi style and throw it around, they're probably going to get outdone there, so they play to their strengths, use their forwards.
“I think that's something we can learn from this week when we go over there is if we're strong in the forward pack, they're going to be on the back foot and they're not going to be allowed to do what they want to do.”
The Waratahs’ maul was an effective weapon against the Blues last weekend and Robertson said it was critical they could lean on that against the Crusaders, who are a defensive machine.
“Certainly, if we get the opportunity, we'll try and do it this week and obviously Christchurch can be sunny and 25 one time and then -3 and raining,” he said.
“f it gets like that on the weekend, we'll certainly be going back to the maul, but certainly been some good success in the maul lately, so can't see why we'd stop it.”
With their star-studded backline, though, Robertson said they wanted to become a team that could function in tight or out wide.
“Certainly if we throw a bit of variation in there so if we can maul it one time and look to pass it out to the backs if the maul's not going too well, that can mix things up, but at the same time, you want to go in there with something that you know that works for you and you can practice in training,” he said.
“Sometimes you get in a middle of a game and decide, 'Oh, this isn't working' and then you go to something you haven't practised before, it can turn pretty badly.
“If you go in there with something you want to do well, try and do it as best your ability and see how the defence is.”
Forwards coach Simon Cron said he wanted to see the Waratahs’ maul become a reliable option every week, but was wary of it becoming a go-to tactic.
“For us, it's got to be a weapon for us week on week,” he said.
“We've got to be able to use it week on week but at the same time, if a team thinks we're going to maul and we run a special then we'll catch them that way.”
The Waratahs take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday, kicking off at 5:15pm local, 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.