Struggling to breach … Conrad Smith looks to offload. Photo: AP
ANY suggestion Argentina would be easy-beats in their Rugby Championship debut have been squashed.
The All Blacks were left physically battered and in awe of a more impressive Pumas side than the 21-5 losing margin on Saturday suggests.
Two weeks after drawing 16-16 with South Africa, Argentina tackled with a mix of precision and aggression, which rattled the world champions.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen issued a warning for the Wallabies, who host the raw-boned South Americans on the Gold Coast this Saturday.
''They're a very passionate team and have a lot of desire to play well for their nation,'' said Hansen, who was reluctant to criticise his side for their struggles to breach the world No.8 ranked team's defensive line.
''The system they use is very good, they give you a lot of space on the outside and make you think there's fool's gold out there. If you go there too early with missed passes, they get out and cover that.''
Veteran All Blacks centre Conrad Smith said they had planned for the Pumas' unusual defensive methods - which include routinely slowing down ruck ball - but it still took some getting used to. ''I don't think we really got a grip on it until near the end of the game,'' Smith said. ''Hopefully we can use that again when we play them on their home track.''
That match, in La Plata on September 29, falls between two Pumas' Tests against the Wallabies.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan hoped his team would continue their improvement curve in their last away Test of the championship.
''For us it's very important, the next game in Australia,'' he said.
''This game gives us confidence … we are very disappointed about the result but very happy about the way the players are attacking the game.
''Obviously we will try to do the same against Australia.''