Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Passion can carry Pumas a long way

The Pumas have depth across the board and a number of players in form. Photo / APN
The Pumas have depth across the board and a number of players in form. Photo / APN

The All Blacks know they will have to be at their best next Sunday to come away from Argentina with a victory.

The Pumas have been impressive in the Rugby Championship so far and have only really been the odd moment of indiscipline away from recording two wins.

And the thing is, they become a more dangerous side again at home.

When I played there in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a tough old place. It was just after the Falklands War, so it was a country of relative extremes - there were those who had money and those who didn't.

I remember we were paid per diems back in those days and the senior players were smart enough to get theirs in US dollars, while the rest of the boys got theirs in pesos.

Those with dollars could buy pretty much what they wanted and those of us without, couldn't.

It made for a fascinating and enjoyable tour as the whole time we were there, the respect and admiration for the All Blacks was obvious and yet when we get on the field, the passion for the local teams and the Pumas was intense.

I think it was in Mendoza where we played at a football stadium - it was one of those grounds where you came on to the field through a tunnel that was about a metre away from the barbed wire fence which the spectators were behind.

On the way to the game I saw these people carrying boxes of oranges into the ground. In New Zealand back then people used to carry a box of beer so I thought I'd noticed a cultural difference in consumption patterns while watching sport.

About five minutes into the game, I realised that the oranges hadn't been brought to be eaten as a few splattered on the back of my head.

I can also remember that we'd had a few lineouts in the opening minutes and when we came to the first scrum, I saw that Sean Fitzpatrick's back was almost white - with spit!

The rugby was tough - the people were passionate and the experience was hugely enjoyable. I'd expect it will be much the same for the All Blacks this week.

Of Argentina's three opponents in the Rugby Championship, I'd imagine it will be the All Blacks who will be the best looked after there.

The All Blacks will be the team that create the most excitement: the one that carries the most respect and recognition.

Argentina have never beaten the All Blacks in 15 attempts, with a draw in Buenos Aires back in 1985 their best effort.

That means they will also be the side the Pumas want to beat the most but probably what provides the most confidence for me is that, other than Daniel Carter's stiff calf, the All Blacks are injury free.

They have depth across the board and a number of players in form which is not the case with either South Africa or Australia.

The Wallabies might find it particularly tough over there and it wouldn't surprise me if Argentina win at least one of their final two tests.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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