Wallabies told: No bull, it will be rough
Wallaby captain Nathan Sharpe wants speed to the breakdown. Photo: Getty Images
ENRIQUE ''Topo'' Rodriguez has warned the Wallabies they are about to be involved in one of the most confronting and demanding of Test matches when they play Argentina this morning.
Rodriguez, who played 13 Tests for the Pumas before heading to Sydney to be part of the 1984 grand slam and 1986 Bledisloe Cup-winning Wallabies line-ups, presented the jerseys to the Australian team before today's final Rugby Championship match.
After a 10-hour bus trip from his old home town of Concordia, in his first visit there in 25 years, Rodriguez reminded the Wallabies of how important discipline will be in keeping the Pumas at bay.
The Pumas are supremely confident of their first Rugby Championship win against the injury-racked Wallabies. Rodriguez said the Rosario Test would be one of the most aggressive of the tournament. ''If you go to a bull-fighting ring with two wounded bulls, it is going to be a hell of a fight,'' he said at the Rosario Central Stadium.
The renowned tight-head prop emphasised the high level of pressure surrounding this international. ''For the Pumas a win would mean a hell of a lot, and for the Wallabies it could be a major disaster for some of their personnel.''
If the Wallabies falter, it will further destabilise coach Robbie Deans. Although he has the excuse that his squad has been decimated by injuries this season, several Australian Rugby Union board members are starting to question whether to persevere with Deans, especially after a haphazard Bledisloe Cup campaign, and losing to Scotland.
Quade Cooper saying he did not want to play for the Wallabies because of a ''toxic'' environment has also not helped the situation.
Two losses on the road would intensify the push for Reds coach Ewen McKenzie to take over from Deans, possibly as early as the northern hemisphere tour in November-December.
Rodriguez told the players Argentina was ''a country full of sporting heroes'' and the nation expected a lot so it was important to stay composed.
''Argentina are always hard to compete against. They will be dirty if they have to be. The main thing I told the players was to rein in the brain,'' he said. ''You have to control the brain because that controls the body, and when you have that you produce the required skills.
''As the brain can be very fickle, you need to be disciplined in order to ensure a good performance.''
That included controlling aggression, and not getting distracted by the capacity crowd, which is bound to be deafening in a small stadium with spectators metres away.
Rodriguez stressed the Wallabies had to take advantage of their better conditioning by playing a fast, expansive game.
''Argentina has the advantage of being at home, and have done very well this year. But conditioning wise, they are still running short with 10 minutes to go. The last 10 minutes of matches they don't seem to have enough gas,'' he said.
Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe emphasised that speed to the breakdown will be crucial in determining whether they can get out of Rosario with a victory.
''This requires strong ball carries by our players and then good speed to make certain our second and third man get in there so we don't give them the opportunity to lock down over the ball,'' Sharpe said.