Argentina coach Mario Ledesma’s frank admission that his forwards had been pummelled by the Springboks at Kings Park in Durban last weekend could spell trouble for the visitors in Mendoza tonight if they are not on red alert.
And it has not been reported from Argentina that the Springbok pack is stricken with sickness, as Ledesma had playfully hoped would be the case if his forwards were to turn the tables in this return encounter.
So we can safely assume that the passionate Ledesma has been stirring the emotional pot with his forwards this week, tapping into his intimate knowledge of the South American temperament.
Technically, there is not a lot the Pumas can change in their forward play in the space of a week, but on their home turf their physical confrontation will undoubtedly escalate into naked aggression.
Australian referee Angus Gardner could have his hands full, and so too could the Springboks.
After the Boks won last week, captain Siya Kolisi lamented his team’s discipline in conceding too many penalties as well as in botching five try-scoring opportunities from within a few metres of the Pumas’ line.
“The thing that we players were not happy with, and which we talked about after the game, was our discipline,” said Kolisi.
“It put us on the back foot at times. The penalties were one thing but it was also lack of discipline that resulted in poor execution in their 22.”
The Boks will have ample opportunity to rectify that discipline.
Hooker Malcolm Marx, who will be in the middle of the maelstrom, said from Buenos Aires that the Boks were girding their loins for open warfare.
“Whenever we come here it’s a very tough game ... they just step it up in front of their home crowd,” he said.
“I think emotions run a little higher here than in any other country.”
On a personal level, Marx will be squaring up to another world renowned hooker in Agustin Creevy, the 75-Test veteran.
“He’s a great rugby player and a good man off the field as well,” Marx said of Creevy.
“He’s big at the breakdown and a smart player who knows the ins and outs, the little tricks.”
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus concurred with his hooker regarding what lies in wait for the Boks.
“They are dangerous all over the field. Creevy and all three of their loose forwards are wonderful at the breakdown and as ball carriers; they have fast wingers and an attacking centre,” the Bok coach observed.
Steven Kitshoff, who continues to make a mighty impact off the bench for the Boks, said the Pumas are back to their scrummaging best after a period in which they lost focus on what has been a historical strength.
“It’s going to be a tough, physical battle. Argentina have traditionally been one of the more physical packs to scrum against through the years and it’s no different now. They have a scrum, for sure,” said Kitshoff.
“We have worked hard on our scrums this week and we’re up for it.”
Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick reinforced Kolisi’s sentiments on the squandered opportunities in Durban.
“The All Blacks have been the best team in the world for some years, and the yardstick to aim for,” he said.
“But for us, the main focus is not to look at what they are doing, but to make sure we get better as a team also. When Rassie started coaching the Boks in June, we set our own personal goals as a team.
“We also have a process which we have to follow, and I think currently we are going in the right direction,” Stick added.
“There are a lot of opportunities we missed last week, but the nice thing is that we created the opportunities and we must learn to convert them into points now.
“For me as an attack coach, it was great to see - especially with the momentum the forwards were giving the outside backs.
“That is going to be our main focus going forward, to ensure all the opportunities that we get in a game are turned into points.
“We need to be brutal - that is what the All Blacks are; if you give them a sniff in the game they will punish you. So that is what we are also working very hard to do.”@MikeGreenaway67
Independent on Saturday