How Rennie's Wallabies plan on toppling Ledesma's Cheika-assisted Argentina in Tri Nations

Tri Nations
by Christy Doran

In years gone by fans got tiresome and increasingly frustrated by Michael Cheika stating he didn’t study his next opponents.

It wasn’t necessarily true. He did, and he had an army of men employed to do some of that work too.

But his constant selection changes and questionable tactics - running the ball at all costs in 2019 - added to that school of thought.

On Thursday, moments after naming his side to take on the Pumas with Cheika acting as Mario Ledesma’s right-hand man with Argentina for the tournament, Rennie made it crystal clear that he does study his opponents and made sure to tell reporters that his side would heed the lessons from the All Blacks' loss.

“They (Argentina) did a good job filling the field last week and when teams fill the field you’ve got to be prepared to go through the middle of them and squeeze them up and then play outside them,” Rennie said.

"I think the All Blacks tried to go through them all day, but they would look back at the footage I’d imagine and realise that they left a few points out there if they’d been able to mix the game up better. That’s our challenge. They defended really well. They’ve got big men, they were very good at slowing the ball down and then getting a wall in front of the All Blacks – our challenge is to generate quicker ball than that to create space on the outside.”

WATCH THE WALLABIES TAKE ON THE PUMAS IN NEWCASTLE, NOV 21. TICKETS HERE

In particular, Rennie was surprised by the lack of kicking from the All Blacks.

It’s a theme that is becoming abundantly clear with the All Blacks that when they kick more seldom do they lose.

That proved true in Bledisloe I and IV, as well as Bledisloe I in 2019, when the All Blacks were outkicked and subsequently struggled.

Tellingly, too, in the one Bledisloe fixture where the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies (Bledisloe III) they easily outkicked Rennie’s men.

Once again, Rennie emphasised the importance of kicking astutely and keeping on the right side of the referee, particularly with Argentinian sharpshooter Nico Sanchez in form and coming into the match off the back of a 25-point haul – all of Los Pumas’ points in their opening Tri Nations fixture.

“I think the Pumas are happy to play without the ball,” he said.

“They really dominated the kicking stats last week, which was surprising ( 28-16), so the All Blacks held on to a lot of ball and made errors and got punished.

“We expect them to kick a lot to us and then try and get a wall in front of us, so we’ve got a plan around that. Our kicking game needs to be sharp. Our ability to generate quick ball will be really important. And then discipline’s going to be massive. They’re happy to go in threes, and if we make errors around discipline they can kick from a long way out or get their lineout going and their drive game which was pretty effective last week.”

Rennie has made three changes to his starting side, with two of those changes being forced.

Scott Sio comes in for the injured James Slipper at loose-head prop while Taniela Tupou has been promoted ahead of Allan Alaalatoa.

The other change sees Ned Hanigan come in for the suspended Lachie Swinton at blindside flanker.

In each three of those cases, Rennie said he was after an edge to their games and emphasised the importance of the set-piece.

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Meanwhile, Rennie said that his side’s win over the All Blacks in Bledisloe IV would mean little if they can't back it up with another strong performance against the Pumas.

“We’ve talked a lot about understanding that we’re playing something bigger than ourselves and who we represent,” he said.

“We want the Australian rugby public to believe in us and to be proud of us, and the only way you do that is through the performance.

“We put in a pretty solid 80 minutes (but) that doesn’t count for a lot unless we back it up again this week.

“We’re well aware of the expectations of all Australians, but we’ve got very high expectations (ourselves) so we want to step it up and be one better than last time."

WALLABIES V PUMAS AT MCDONALD JONES STADIUM, NEWCASTLE. KICK-OFF: 7:45PM AEDT

WALLABIES (1-15): Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Harry Wilson, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Tom Banks

RESERVES: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu

PUMAS (1-15): Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Guido Petti, Matias Alemanni, Pablo Matera (c), Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Juan Imhoff, Santiago Chocobares, Matias Orlando, Bautista Delguy, Santiago Carreras

RESERVES: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Grondona, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero