Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Pumas' progress to be revealed

Pride in the Pumas revolves around their fearless forward work and concerted aggression.

That macho banner hovers over most perceptions of Argentina's test rugby approach which they will unveil tomorrow in Napier.

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In the last round there were hints of an expanded repertoire as they made a number of breaks against the Boks and claimed several tries out wide which may say more about their opponent's standards than any sweeping style departure from the Pumas.

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When new coach Daniel Hourcade took over, he eased out some of the old guard and instilled new fitness regimes and playing patterns. Those changes give the Pumas more variety around their time-honoured attention to basics.

"They've made a lot of progress," All Black coach Steve Hansen noted.

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"South Africa really struggled with them at scrum time so obviously they have got that part of their game sorted and the back three are exciting, they want to run."

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There are two alterations to the group asked to begin this test for the Pumas.

Leonardo Senatore comes into a rejigged loose forward group after Pablo Matera's injury while Horacio Agulla is picked instead of Manuel Montero on the right wing.

Montero has size but is also finding his way in test rugby while Agulla brings the experience of 53 caps and a breadth of game he learned initially at fullback.

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The Pumas went oh-so-close to beating the Boks in both matches and dominated much of the test at Salta. Their discipline was strong and their ruck and maul work very effective, however other areas were not as solid.

They will look at a lineout operating at just over 80 per cent, an 84 per cent tackling success and a 64 per cent goal-kicking rate.

Loose forward Jean Manuel Leguizamon is near the top of the competition for ball carries and tackles with some tasty offload work too.

His colleagues, though, have not been anywhere near as effective in making regular inroads across the all-important gain-line.

- NZ Herald

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