Howley targets balanced Welsh display
November 20, 2009
Rob Howley is looking to Wales' backs to run with the ball against Argentina © Getty Images
Rob Howley hopes Wales will return to a crowd-pleasing, flowing style of rugby when they take on Argentina on Sunday, but not at any cost. The backs coach admits the team have relied too heavily on their kicking arsenal, but insists the lower-risk strategy is very much an important part of the modern game.
Wales have come under fire after scoring just one try in their November Tests against New Zealand and Samoa, to wing Leigh Halfpenny, but the former Wales captain insists the risk of playing free-flowing, counter-attacking rugby comes at a price.
"There is frustration throughout the world game in terms of ping-pong and the high risk there now is of running from deep," he said. "You worry about the tackle area and giving penalties away if you are caught in possession."
Howley knows that the back-three of Halfpenny, James Hook and Shane Williams will have to be able to deal with the aerial threat that the Pumas will present.
"The aerial battle will always be a big part of the game," he said. "We talk about 'owning the sky,' and that is what our back-three have to do. The kicking game is one of Argentina's strengths, and there is an awful lot more kicking in the game now - you cannot pretend it is not the case.
"It is going to be all about reading situations tomorrow. If we can keep the ball in hand, then we can cause Argentina problems. It's about having the right balance."
Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe knows that Wales will be keen to build on their less-than-convincing win over Samoa last time out. The Toulon No.8 believes his side will have to maintain their concentration if they are to beat the Welsh on their home turf.
"Wales represent a big, big threat for us," he said. "They will go out there and attack us, so we will need to be really ready. They have been playing very well for the last two years, it's a group that really believes in themselves.
"They have big carriers in the forwards, they have good playmakers at half-back and a full-back who is good under the high ball and attacks well. It's a good team so all of us need to be really focused in defence and not get distracted. If we get distracted for one second, we are not going to win this game."
Wales coach Warren Gatland recently disputed claims that the Argentinian scrum was the best in the world, but the No.8 is supremely confident in the ability of his pack.
"I believe they are maybe the best front row in the world," he said. "I look at them and they are massive in the scrum, they are running all over the park and making the tackles and trying to make the carries.
"So it's always nice to have them in your team. I am always going to be glad if I'm going to have [Rodrigo] Roncero, [Mario] Ledesma and [Martin] Scelzo in my scrum. We believe we have a really good scrum that can dominate and give us quality ball. We achieved that against England last Saturday."
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