10 Sep 2021

Can Los Pumas pounce on the All Blacks again?

8:00 am on 10 September 2021

The All Blacks take on Argentina on the Gold Coast on Sunday and the big question is, can Los Pumas cause another upset in Australia.

Fans celebrate after the Pumas beat the All Blacks. Tri Nations rugby union test match. New Zealand All Blacks v Argentina Pumas. Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 14th Nov 2020. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz

Fans celebrate after the Pumas beat the All Blacks. Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT 2020 www.photosport.nz

Last year in Sydney Argentina stunned the All Blacks 25-15 to claim their first ever win over the New Zealanders.

It was an historic upset upset few people saw coming, but no-one was surprised by the tactics the Pumas employed, as they dominated the All Blacks physically and bullied them out of the game.

So, what will the All Blacks do to adjust this year?

Assistant coach Brad Mooar unwilling to reveal too much.

"I'm sure you thought you had to ask the question. But, I'm pretty sure you know I'm not going to answer that, I might as well pick up the phone to Senor Ledesma (Argentina coach Mario Ledesma) and let him know what he should expect to see."

Mooar's reticence matched by halfback TJ Perenara.

"Yeah, I probably can't touch too much on our gameplan going into it. We will need to I guess adjust a little bit of our tactics."

TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett are among several All Blacks unlikely to make themselves available for the Rugby Championship in Australia.

TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett. Photo: Photosport

The All Blacks keeping their cards close to their chests and clearly a little nervous after being bitten by Los Pumas last season.

Perenara knows they will need to match Argentina's aggression on Sunday.

"We understand that it is a different beast coming this week.

"They're a very big team, they play with a lot of speed, a lot of passion and they're very physical.

"They enjoy that one on one collision. They enjoy getting around the corner and coming straight at you."

And Mooar is adamant the All Blacks won't be caught off guard like they were in Sydney.

"There's absolutely no chance of being surprised by the power, the attitude and the ability of the Pumas."

Argentina also less than loquacious this week, with their first press conference ahead of the match not until tonight after their team naming.

The All Blacks play back-to-back tests against the South Americans over the next two weekends, before finishing the Rugby Championship with consecutive matches against world champions South Africa.

New Zealand hope to have former captain Sam Whitelock back for the last game, with the first-choice lock heading to Queensland this weekend for two weeks of self-quarantine after staying in Aotearoa for the birth of his third child.

He will get out of isolation just a week before that final test and if he doesn't make the team he will have spent two weeks in quarantine for nought, with the All Blacks to depart Australia for their end of year tour after the match.

Sam Whitelock.

Sam Whitelock. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

However, the 127 test veteran is confident he won't be lacking fitness after being confined to a hotel room for a fortnight.

"I've backed myself into a corner.

"But, anyone who knows me knows that I'm, I'm not going to say stubborn but I would say strong willed.

"If I was a 19-year-old kid would I do it (travel to Australia for quarantine with the chance of not playing) and instantly you would say yes. Every test match is so special that if there's an opportunity for me to get on a plane and play a test match, I'm going to do it."

Though Whitelock concedes his wife Hannah, who's been left behind with 4-year-old Fred, 2-year-old Iris, and newborn Penelope, might have it tougher than he does.

"Haha, I was actually thinking about how I was going to answer that question, do I admit that the first couple of days it's going to be quite nice to just get some solid sleep."

No doubt Whitelock will sleep easier on Sunday if the All Blacks beat Argentina and stay top of the Rugby Championship standings.