Friday, August 31, 2012
Pumas don't want to be a surprise packages any more
By Rex Gowar
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's Pumas, fresh from their best result against South Africa, want to become a team that no longer surprise people with their achievements.
Having lost 27-6 to South Africa on their debut in Cape Town on August 18, the Pumas came within a whisker of upsetting the Springboks in a 16-16 draw in Mendoza in the Rugby Championship last Saturday.
"I hope that getting into an annual tournament is going to allow us to not surprise the guys anymore," captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe told Reuters.
"(We want) to try to play at this level every year and to reach the level of these three teams that is amazing."
After a practice in Buenos Aires on Thursday, the Pumas were flying to New Zealand to face the All Blacks in Wellington on September 8, then Australia in Gold Coast a week later.
"Our goal is to try and match them. It's going to demand a lot of hard, hard work but we believe we have the head and the will to get to that level," the number eight said.
"So we hope that in a few years we can say that the Pumas are not surprising, that they have established themselves at that level."
The Pumas have received some advice from New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry as a consultant to help them raise another step in their game.
The Toulon back row forward, who formerly played in England, explained the meaning behind Henry's advice to play a simple game.
"Sometimes you don't have to complicate yourselves a lot, you just need to do simple stuff but do it perfectly, be precise, do it 100 percent every time and sometimes that's not easy to achieve," he said.
"But if you can (do that) you have a good grade of success," he added, and pointed to some of Argentina's strengths, including the 'Pumas mystique', when players rise above themselves after pulling on the light blue and white hoops.
"We have a strong defence and we're trying to play an intensive rugby of going forward and trying to be dynamic but the most important thing is the pride we get from playing with this team."
Winger Horacio Agulla also said Henry's influence was a major asset.
"It's huge. For us, a person like him to come here to give us some instructions, some rugby (nous) is really good. We enjoy it and try to learn everything we can," he told reporters.
"He just wants us to play simple rugby, he doesn't want us to play really complicated rugby, he makes everything easier for us. I think that's why we feel so comfortable."
Agulla, like Fernandez Lobbe a veteran of the Pumas side that finished third at the 2007 World Cup in France, said the disappointment of not having managed to win Saturday's match could act as a spur for the team.
"To have got a draw is incredible, but to have been dominant all match and so close (to winning) and see it slip due to small mistakes leaves you with a sour taste," he said.
"That we should all remain with that feeling is good because it means we aren't satisfied (with that)," added the Bath player.
"The best (challenge) is to come, New Zealand, the world champions, everyone's dream, to be enjoyed. Obviously, it's going to be harder than South Africa but you have to make the most of such things."