Welsh facing trial by forwards

Wales have been warned they face trial by renowned Puma forward power at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Argentina’s Leicester-bound coach Marcelo Loffreda reports his side’s reliance on a pack rated among the world’s most formidable will not be ditched in any form of pre-World Cup experiment as they seek to add to Welsh worries and woes.

Gareth Jenkins’ forwards were pounded into submission in their last outing – the 62-5 humiliation by England at Twickenham – and the Pumas are in no mood to ease the pressure on the Wales coach, even though Loffreda expects the hosts’ wounded pride to prompt a ferocious response.

“Wales are coming off the back of a bad result against England that will have really hurt them,” Loffreda reasons.

“Now they are like wounded lions, and that makes them very dangerous.

“They are desperate to give something back to their fans who love the game, and we will see all that Welsh pride come out on Saturday. We will have to match that heart and pride on the day, but it’s going to be a very tough game.”

Argentina, fifth in the International Rugby Board world rankings, have beaten Wales in four of their last five meetings – but the ex-Pumas hooker says that record is irrelevant on this occasion.

“Perhaps that record has partly been good luck, partly good strategy and perhaps better heart or pride than Wales. But this is another story – another version of both teams playing against each other,” continued Loffreda.

“I know it will be a very different story because Wales are coming off the back of that bad game against England.

“They are like a wounded lion, and a wounded lion is very dangerous – and I know the Welsh team will want to give something to the people that love this game.

“The Welsh pride will come out in this game. It’s going to be a different story.”

As for Argentina, they will simply be sticking to what they do best.

“We have a style and we are not going to renounce it,” the coach vowed.

“It’s not a secret. But you must win the battle up front in any game of rugby. Every scrum is a contest, and we will be combative in that area.”

The Pumas have learned few new tricks too, though.

“We have developed our game, and it is not all about the pack,” added Loffreda.

“The second battle is in the middle of the field, and we also have plenty of talented backs as well. Wales are as tough an opponent as the ones we’ll face in the World Cup.”

While Loffreda hopes he can take Argentina to the World Cup quarter-finals and beyond despite the presence of Ireland and hosts France in their pool at the tournament, he also continues to dream of the day the Pumas will play in a regular prime international competition.

He believes the International Rugby Board is intent on ensuring the Pumas are included in future plans for the game’s global expansion, but that progress is painfully slow.

Loffreda, who takes over at Leicester after the World Cup, said: “The IRB have been trying to help us. They have sent some people to analyse our rugby and look at our structure to see how they can help us.

“They have been very helpful in trying to place us in some competitions, but we also have to make an effort to help them to help us. The IRB has been very supportive, but nothing is happening.”


365 Digital

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