Pumas pay tribute to Sir Graham Henry
September 12, 2013
Felipe Contepomi says Graham Henry is building the Pumas' self-belief © Getty Images
Argentina know they're not expected to beat the Wallabies on Saturday night, and they're also quick to acknowledge that Australia are the better team than them, but the Pumas have an ace up their sleeve heading into The Rugby Championship Test in Perth.
The All Blacks' Rugby World Cup 2011-winning coach has given Argentina's players a huge confidence boost since linking with the side as a consultant last year, and they dare to dream of causing massive boilovers even though they don't yet have the firepower to consistently match the best sides in the world.
That belief was on show in their two most recent games, when the Pumas almost knocked off the Springboks in Mendoza before giving the All Blacks a scare in Hamilton. Now they have their sights set on the vulnerable Wallabies, whose confidence appears to be at rock bottom following four straight defeats.
Pumas centre Felipe Contepomi said that Henry had given the players vital inside knowledge about their rivals, as well as providing astute tactical nous. Most importantly, he said, the former All Blacks coach has given them belief.
"When he arrived last year, he said, 'if you attack the way you defend, you could be world champions'," Contepomi said. "We defend with a lot of mentality, a lot of passion, but sometimes we don't have the same belief in attack. So we are trying to change that. He added a lot of confidence and knowledge in the way to attack.
"He knows the Wallabies much better than we do, and it's great to have his inside knowledge. He can add to our rugby culture."
The Wallabies are yet to win under Ewen McKenzie, with star scrum-half Will Genia having been relegated to the bench for the Test in Perth, in favour of Nic White, paying the price for the team's indifferent showing in their humbling 38-12 loss to the Springboks. But the Pumas, who haven't beaten the Wallabies since 1997, are bracing for a fierce onslaught.
"Sometimes when teams are in crisis, they become stronger," Contepomi said. "They've got great individual players and great coaches. It will soon click, but hopefully not on Saturday.
"Australia is a better team than us, and they will be after the game. But they need to prove it in those 80 minutes. You never know what could happen. If we could play good rugby and have a victory, it would mean a lot to us."
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