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Hansen criticises Pumas' tactics

Date

Chris Barclay in Buenos Aires

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images

The All Blacks face the language barrier for the first time during the Rugby Championship in Spanish-speaking Argentina - though one message wasn't lost in translation yesterday.

As the All Blacks arrived, coach Steve Hansen was invited to hold an inquisition into Los Pumas' style of play and his side's difficulties combating it.

Although the All Blacks can claim their latest trophy by beating Argentina in La Plata this weekend, the manner of their recent victories against South Africa and their current hosts has been unable to lift the expanded Tri Nations from the doldrums as spoiling, defence-orientated tactics stifle attacking flair.

The last time the sides met in Wellington on September 8, the All Blacks - through committed Argentine defence and their own inefficiencies - were held tryless for more than an hour before pulling away to a 21-5 victory.

And unless the Pumas are willing to change their spots - or the All Blacks finally produce some artistry befitting the home of the tango - another high intensity though low-quality struggle risks unfolding in La Plata on Sunday.

The All Blacks' first visit to South America since 2006 should be a platform to promote the code in a nation obsessed by football - as the team discovered yesterday when fans of local club Independiente provided a traffic-slowing sideshow en route to their hotel.

Hansen, however, feared another war of attrition would be waged before their final battle in Soweto against the Springboks.

“Argentina will look to slow it down and make it a scrappy game. If it does get scrappy we'll get what we got in Wellington,” he said.

Hansen criticised the Argentinian forwards for habitually losing their footing at the breakdown and killing the ball as a means of disrupting the All Blacks' momentum.

But Los Pumas can hardly be blamed for playing to their strengths given they are keeping company with the world's top three ranked nations for the first time.

A well-drilled forward pack has also stressed the All Blacks legitimately - South Africa then exerted similar pressure in Dunedin - so Hansen also put his personnel on notice to dominate the forward exchanges and breach Argentina's sliding defence.

“We've got to get quicker ball, we've got to win the collision as the ball carrier and get our cleanout right. We've got to keep the big Argentinian forwards from going off their feet, killing our ball and slowing our ball,” he said.

There has been no shortage of negativity surrounding the All Blacks since their nine-try demolition of Ireland in June - they have scored seven in the four tests since their unanswered 60-point romp in Hamilton - but Hansen tried to accentuate the positive.

“We're not scoring a lot of tries but the tries we are scoring are off set-piece play and no other team in the world's doing that to the same extent at the moment,” he said.

“What we've got to do now is put together the broken play tries - forwards and backs combining - and the opposition aren't allowing us to do that. So far they've been good enough to stop us.”

Daniel Carter's potential return after missing two tests with a calf injury supplies any attack with an edge and Hansen was confident the star first five-eighth would be capable of replacing understudy Aaron Cruden.

Wing Cory Jane acknowledged the disquiet concerning the All Blacks' try-scoring rate but pleaded for patience.

“I've heard people talk about the rugby getting boring. It is a test match and we are playing against the best in the world,” he said.

“We're trying to play a high tempo game, a game that suits us. Hopefully, we'll get it clicking this weekend and maybe a few people will start talking us up and enjoying it.”

Fairfax NZ News

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
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RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
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RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
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RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
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