Stevens relishing Pumas challenge
September 5, 2011
Stevens only recently returned to the Test match stage having completed a two-year drugs ban © Getty Images
Prop Matt Stevens has revealed that the England pack plan to give their Argentinian rivals some of their own medicine when the two sides go head-to-head in Dunedin on Saturday.
Stevens is set to win his 36th Test cap at the hi-tech Forsyth-Barr Stadium but it will be his first meeting with the Pumas and he is relishing the opportunity to front up to such grizzled veterans as Mario Ledesma, Marcos Ayerza, Rodrigo Roncero or Martin Scelzo who he believes would all challenge for a World XV.
"Argentina have got some great front rows and we are relishing the challenge," said the 28-year-old Stevens, who is reacquainting himself with the international stage having recently served a two-year drugs ban.
"Scrummaging is about experience. Front row players get better with age and that is the case of Argentina. Their front row would definitely be pushing to be the best in the world. The Argentinian front row are good ball carriers as well, they are not just scrummagers.
"What you will notice about Argentinian sides is that it is an eight-man effort. I think they were the first team to really spearhead scrummaging as an eight. That is what we have done as a pack in the last four or five years. We have tried to push our work with the clubs and with England to scrum as an eight. New Zealand are very good at it, the South Africans are coming up but the Argentina spearheaded it in and we are matching them."
Stevens, who will discover on Thursday whether he starts against the Pumas, is not only a key figure on the field. His musical prowess off the pitch saw 'The Gambler' by Kenny Rogers being adopted as the tour song at the 2007 World Cup but he may have some competition this time around with at least four guitar players in the squad.
"It was 'The Gambler' a few years ago. It is a good team spirit. Manu has got his, Matt Banahan has got his, Jonny has got his - he is very good at it, like everything. Music is a big part of any World Cup whether it is the fans playing and singing their different songs or the teams. It was definitely a binding experience, that last World Cup, and I am sure we will get it in there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales