PREVIEW: Ireland v Argentina
TOUGH EXAMINATION: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has warned his players lining up for Saturday’s one-off Test with Argentina they need to focus on that and not the clash with world champions New Zealand a week later.
Schmidt, who is hoping for a successful end to a remarkable year which has seen them secure the Six Nations Grand Slam and a Test series win in Australia, said they would be only human not to be thinking of the match between the top two ranked teams in the world, but it could prove costly such is competition for places.
Argentina should provide a testing examination provided they are not too tired having come out of the Rugby Championship with two victories under new head coach Mario Ledesma, including their first in Australia since 1983.
“I hope everyone is looking over their shoulder,” said Schmidt referring to the players in the starting XV.
“Anyone runs a little bit harder when they hear the breathing of someone behind them.
“I don’t want them looking around. I just want them to run harder, so they can keep their distance. It is up to this week’s group to keep them at bay.”
Schmidt, who is seen by some as a future coach of the All Blacks after his success with Ireland, made it clear that anyone who doesn’t meet his high standards on Saturday will have the next weekend off.
“They understand fully that any who look that far ahead [to the All Blacks match] they compromise what they deliver this weekend,” he said.
“Then as a result next week they’re really looking forward to the game but watching it from the stands, that’s not where they want to be.
“They want to have their boots and they want to be right in amongst it.”
Schmidt, whose side began the November Tests with a 54-7 thumping of Italy, said Argentina would prove challenging in many respects.
“In particular, this is our first southern hemisphere game of this series and you saw in Australia, the way that southern hemisphere rugby is played on the back of Super Rugby is worth a fair bit of freedom,” said the 53-year-old New Zealander.
“The Argentines would probably be, to a degree, a little bit more combative at the ruck than some of the other teams who tend to let a fair few rucks go and then suddenly they’ll have a crack and turn you over.
“So we’re going to have to really be on our mettle.”
Schmidt is especially wary of the Pumas’ vibrant, attack-minded backs.
Fullback Emiliano Boffelli and wings Bautista Delguy and Ramiro Moyano have the ability to cut defences to ribbons – Boffelli and Delguy scoring three tries apiece in the Rugby Championship.
“If their back three get the ball the more likely they [the Argentinians] are going to break teams open, because they’re tackle breakers, they’re line breakers and they link up in behind the line really effectively once they break the line,” said Schmidt.
“Nicolas Sanchez (the flyhalf) is a weapon there as well.”
Schmidt acknowledges too that Ledesma knows the Irish players better due to his experience of playing in the northern hemisphere and is not surprised the former hooker is making waves in the coaching arena.
“He was a smart player and a good manager of people,” said Schmidt who was assistant coach at French side Clermont when Ledesma was on the playing staff
“He has already done an incredible job in broadening his experience for example with the Wallabies [when he was forwards’ coach].
“With the national team he has already compiled some good success and certainly he has the confidence of the players.”
Players to watch:
For Ireland: Jordan Larmour is fast becoming a household name in world rugby after a number of outstanding performances for club and country. He was sensational in last week’s win against Italy where he scored three tries. Wing Jacob Stockdale is a try-scoring machine out wide and he will look to terrorise Argentina’s defence. Flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, who will probably be crowned World Player if the Year later this month, dominates games with his decision making and he will look to do the same on Saturday. In the pack, CJ Stander is strong and abrasive at the breakdowns, while Tadhg Furlong is one of the best in the business when it comes to props.
For Argentina: Bautista Delguy has been outstanding on the wing for the Jaguares and Argentina this year. Fullback Emiliano Boffelli is a hard man to contain when he gets a bit of space and he is a key playmaker out wide. Flyhalf Nicholas Sanchez was immense during the Rugby Championship and he will be looking to impress against Jonathan Sexton. Pablo Matera always has a high work rate during games, especially around the breakdowns, while Agustin Creevy is a force with ball in hand.
Head to head: Two of the best hookers in the game are up against each other. Rory Best and Agustin Creevy have played influential roles in their respective teams over the years and they are both part of strong front rows taking the field in Dublin. There are plenty of mouth-watering battles out wide, but it all starts with the two flyhalves on the day, Jonathan Sexton and Nicolas Sanches.
2017: Ireland won 28-19, Dublin
2015: Argentina won 43-20, Cardiff (WC Quarterfinal)
2014: Ireland won 23-17, Tucuman
2014: Ireland won 29-17, Resistencia
2012: Ireland won 46-24, Dublin
2010: Ireland won 29-9, Dublin
2008: Ireland won 17-3, Dublin
2007: Argentina won 30-15, Paris (WC Pool match)
2007: Argentina won 16-0, Buenos Aires
2007: Argentina won 22-20, Sante Fe
Prediction: Ireland are at home and they are a powerful team. Argentina will be a tough challenge, but the Irish will take this one by 12 points.
Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Andrew Conway.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicholas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Rodrigo Bruni, 20 Thomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Moroni
Date: Saturday, November 10
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 18:30 (18:30 GMT, 15.30 Argentina Time)
Expected weather: It will be around 5°C by kick-off time and there is a slight chance of rain.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ludovic Cayre (France)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)
AFP & @rugby365com
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 8, 2018