Boks wary of rested Los Pumas

The Springbok expect Argentina to speed up the play when the two teams meet in their Rugby Championship opener at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon.

Los Pumas have been known to try and keep the play as unstructured as possible when they have taken on the Springboks. Argentina have had success against the Springboks with this ploy over the last two years, beating the Boks for the first time away in Durban in 2015 and coming out victorious at home in 2016.

Argentina also play right on the edge of the rules, trying to disrupt the Springboks’ attack by denying them quick ball. They tend to flood the breakdown, while they also employ a rush defence to try and halt any sort of momentum the South Africans’ big ball carriers generate from first- or second-phase ball.

“We’re going to have to be very sharp because their captain makes quick decisions, like if we’re not ready he’ll throw the ball in quickly [into the lineout] and their scrumhalf will take a quick tap. So we have to be very alert,” Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies told a press conference.

“Their first two phases on defence are also very good, so we’ll have to be sharp in terms of our momentum with our first and our second launch. I think that’s going to be key.”

Those kinds of tactics have not often worked for the Jaguares — who play with basically the Argentina Test side in Super Rugby.

The Argentinian team conceded the most penalties in this year’s competition, and thesecond-most yellow cards. They were also fifth in penalties conceded for offsides and sixth for infringing at the ruck.

The Jaguares’ discipline has basically let them down in the competition, but Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith says they will be a totally different team when they take to the field in the light-blue and white of Argentina.

“They will bring something very different to what we saw from them in Super Rugby and we are expecting that,” Smith said.

“Since the last round of Super Rugby they will have been focusing just on these next two matches [next week in Salta]. They would also have had the opportunity to have at least one or two weeks’ rest before starting the buildup.

“One of the big differences is that instead of looking forward to a competition that lasts over several months, they are now preparing for a competition that features just six games.”

The Boks have tended to get drawn into scraps against Argentina, instead of keeping their patience and wearing Los Pumas down. But it’s going to be important for the South Africans to start well in this competition and build on that momentum they created with their 3-0 drubbing of France in June.

“This is the first phase of the Championship and as such it is a big game for us. We must settle down in our systems quickly because we know we will be facing a complete onslaught on Saturday,” Smith said.

“We need to use these two matches to create momentum and to get the combinations to gel.”