Rugby: Foster, All Blacks wary of Argentine threat

By Alex McLeod

All Black assistant coach Ian Foster. Photo / Photosport
All Black assistant coach Ian Foster. Photo / Photosport

Assistant coach Ian Foster says the All Blacks will need to be careful going into Sunday's clash against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Having secured the Rugby Championship title, the Bledisloe Cup and the Freedom Cup the All Blacks will take on Argentina for the second time, following their 57-22 win in Hamilton three weeks ago.

Speaking to Radio Sport's Nigel Yalden, Foster said the All Blacks need to be wary of the threat the Pumas pose following their clash in Hamilton.

Foster said the Argentines will have learned a lot about the All Blacks' style of play based on the last 30 minutes of that match, where the All Blacks scored 33 unanswered points to blowout the final scoreline.

"They will see some really good things [from the first 50 minutes of the match]," Foster said.

"I guess you can talk about their 50 minutes, I mean we did pretty well in that last 30, but we've got to be careful because they would have learned a lot about us in that last 30, so we've got the same issues that they've got.

"Are they going to carry on playing that sort of game? Are they going to play a little bit more conservatively? They're the sort of things we mull over and try to figure out how they're going to go.

"Ultimately for us, we just want to make sure that we keep our tempo going and we exercise our right options within our game structure and we find that's the most important thing for us."

Foster admitted it was tempting to blood some of the newer, younger faces in the side for this weekend's match.

"It's tempting because we know inside the camp, there are guys training really well and jumping out of their skin, so we balance that up with all the other variables we have got to consider, which is we still want to growing our game and keep getting better.

"It's a matter of how we change, and what positions we change to make sure that if we are putting newer players in there, they've got players around them that enable them to go out there and do what they need to do."

Foster said the selectors had a clear idea of the starting team they are going to field against Argentina this weekend.

With injuries to the likes of Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden and Jerome Kaino, silverware from the competition already secured along with the potential danger for player burnout following a demanding Super Rugby and international season, one would imagine there would be at least some tweaks made to the starting team from the established side that has run rampant in the Rugby Championship thus far.

A potential change to the starting side could come in the form of first-five-eighth, as Lima Sopoaga could be expected to be handed some considerable game time, as Beauden Barrett has started in nearly every match he's played in for both the Hurricanes and the All Blacks this season, meaning he could be in line for a rest this weekend.

The same could be said for influential hooker Dane Coles, who has been a key member in the Hurricanes and All Blacks squads this year.

The lack of depth New Zealand has in the hooker position, combined with Coles' hefty workload this year, could mean Codie Taylor and/or the uncapped Liam Coltman may be in line for some substantial game time in Buenos Aires.

Waisake Naholo has returned from the injury he suffered against Australia in Sydney, and he too could be considered for a straight swap in the number 14 for Israel Dagg, who has been impressive in his All Black comeback following his World Cup omission last year.

Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire and Matt Todd will all battle with each other to fill the holes in the matchday 23 left vacated by Sam Cane and Jerome Kaino, while the exciting Damian McKenzie, who is still yet to make his international debut, could be an outside chance to make the cut.

- NZ Herald

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