Wallabies braced for Puma test

Ewen McKenzie (Getty Images)
Ewen McKenzie (Getty Images)

Buenos Aires - Australia coach Ewen McKenzie will need the best from his 15 gladiators when they step into what he called a 'coliseum atmosphere' in Rosario for Saturday's Rugby Championship match against Argentina.

"Everyone talks about the coliseum atmosphere and the noise in Rosario.

"It's amazing but also daunting and you need to be able to function in that space," McKenzie said after naming his team on Thursday.

The Wallabies, who beat the Pumas 14-13 in Perth three weeks ago, aim to avoid the wooden spoon against an Argentina team who appear to be edging closer to their first victory in the elite southern hemisphere tournament.

Australia have four points to Argentina's two, earned as bonus points, going into the match (00:40 SA Time) at soccer team Rosario Central's Gigante de Arroyito ground on the banks of the Parana river.

"We'll take steps this week to ensure that when the players arrive at the stadium they aren't surprised," added McKenzie, whose Wallabies have been beset by internal problems this season.

McKenzie was confident the Wallabies, with Will Genia back in the side at scrumhalf to dictate plans to run with the ball, would finish the tournament on a high and win again in Rosario as they did 25-19 in Argentina's debut season.

Genia is the only change McKenzie made to the team beaten 28-8 by South Africa last weekend when the Wallabies were overrun in the first half before the scrumhalf's introduction helped stem the tide.

Argentina centre Felipe Contepomi would like to end his international career on a winning note having said during the week it was almost certainly his last game for the Pumas in a national record 87th test.

"For the moment I think I won't be putting on the Argentine jersey again," the 36-year-old veteran of four World Cups said to the local ESPN radio programme hosted by one of his brothers.

Contepomi, also Argentina's record points-scorer with 651, called for patience as the Pumas seek the first victory in the tournament that their improving performances have been heralding.

"As success-mad Argentines that we are, all we want is the result, but on Saturday we'll see more growth in the team. The result will come and hopefully, I'm sure, it's going to be on Saturday," he said.

Contepomi is one of two changes in the backs Argentina made from the team that lost 33-15 to title holders and standings leaders New Zealand in La Plata last Saturday with Horacio Agulla returning to the right wing.

Coach Santiago Phelan had to make a last-minute change to his scrum, praised by New Zealand coach Steve Hansen for their performance in La Plata where the All Blacks were denied ball for most of the first half.

Prop Juan Figallo was diagnosed with a cervical hernia and had to be withdrawn from the team on Thursday with Juan Pablo Orlandi taking his place.



15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Julio Farias Cabello, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Marcos Ayerza

Substitutes: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Matias Diaz, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Benjamin Macome, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Fernandez, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 James Horwill (captain), 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Bernard Foley

Replacements: 16-Saia Fainga'a, 17-Benn Robinson, 18-Sekope Kepu, 19-Sitaleki Timani, 20-Ben McCalman, 21-Nic White, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Bernard Foley

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

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