New Zealand v Argentina, Rugby Championship
All Blacks want fluency against Argentina
September 7, 2013
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw says his team wants to avoid a slug-fest against against the Pumas © Getty Images
The All Blacks are eager to avoid letting their Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Hamilton become a stop-start affair.
Skipper Richie McCaw says allowing Saturday night's Test to get bogged down in a war of attrition would play to the Pumas strengths.
"If we allow it to be a stop-start affair and you go from set-piece to set-piece, it becomes an arm wrestle," McCaw said. "Traditionally, the Argentines have enjoyed getting stuck in so we have to make sure we don't allow that to happen."
The All Blacks go into the match with two wins over the Wallabies in the opening two rounds. The Pumas went down in both their fixtures against South Africa, but turned around a 73-13 thumping in round one with a narrow 22-17 defeat at home. They lost loose forward Leonardo Senatore to a nine-week ban for biting in that second match. But they welcome back skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe from injury.
"He's a quality player and he has been for the last few years," McCaw said of the blindside flanker. "Having a guy like him in the team, especially as captain, they lift a bit."
McCaw will make his 119th Test appearance when he runs out at Waikato Stadium. It will also be the openside flanker's 48th Rugby Championship or Tri-Nations match, matching the competition record of former Wallabies halfback George Gregan.
He will again be part of a key area of the contest, the breakdown, where the Pumas were productive in game two against the Springboks.
"That's probably where they got a bit of reward in Argentina against the South Africans," McCaw said. "They managed to disrupt breakdown ball and slow the game down in that regard and not let the Springboks get a flow on."
Apart from Senatore, fellow loose forward Pablo Matera also came under the judicial spotlight from that match, but got off an eye-gouging charge.
McCaw said it was important for the All Blacks not to be distracted by talk surrounding Argentina and foul play. He said he hadn't seen any problems during the Tests he's played against the Pumas.
"The boys definitely don't step down," McCaw said. "It's a physical game and there are ways of imposing yourself physically, but there's no place for any stuff like that and, as a whole, the times I've played Argentina, it's been fine."
Follow live text commentary of the Test between New Zealand and Argentina on Saturday, September 7, from 5pm (AEST), 7pm (NZT), 7am (GMT)