BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - All Blacks centre Ryan Crotty has warned Argentina the world champions are still hurting after a rare Test defeat and want to make amends against the Pumas this Saturday.
The New Zealanders succumbed 36-34 to unfancied South Africa in Wellington on September 15 in their first Rugby Championship defeat for three years. Crotty said the result did not sit well with his teammates.
"This group always expects to win and win well," he told Radio Sport from Buenos Aires. "When we don't that's hard to take. There's some very competitive men in the group, that's probably an understatement."
The 39-Test veteran said having a week off after the loss "wasn't ideal" because it gave the players longer to stew over the result. "Usually the next week you get a chance to put it right," he said. "The rock was under the beach towel, that's for sure."
Coach Steve Hansen delivered a damning assessment of his team's game management after the defeat, labelling it the worst he had seen since New Zealand's 2007 World Cup quarter-final loss to France.
Much of the focus was on whether fly-half Beauden Barrett should have taken a drop goal to snatch victory in the final minutes, rather than attempting to set up a try that never came.
Crotty said the All Blacks knew where they went wrong against the Springboks and recognised the entire team needed to communicate better with key playmakers. "It's really about our connections out there. Feeding in everything we see that's critical for them to make the right calls and take a bit of the load off them," he said.
Argentina have never beaten the All Blacks but the South Americans are on a high after defeating South Africa and Australia during this year's Rugby Championship. Crotty was relishing the prospect of a boisterous Buenos Aires crowd.
"It'll be loud, it'll be hard to hear. There'll be a vocal crowd. You embrace that. It's awesome, genuinely exciting. The boys love it," he said. "The best way to silence a crowd is to play well and get points on the board."AFP