By Ramiro Scandolo
BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – Argentina captain Agustin Creevy says his buoyant Pumas team will take little heart from current form when they play New Zealand, reeling from a surprise home defeat to South Africa, in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Argentina have won two Rugby Championship games for the first time this year while the All Blacks after looking to rebound after their 36-34 loss to the Springboks earlier this month.
“We’re not thinking about that, they are only statistics and we pay them no heed,” said hooker Creevy, who will captain the Pumas for a record-equalling 48th time in Saturday’s game in Buenos Aires.
“We are thinking about tomorrow’s game, not whether the All Blacks won or lost. We are thinking about ourselves and how we can beat them.”
Creevy’s professed disinterest contrasts with the feelings of the home fans who see recent results as encouragement for a team that has never beaten the world champions in 27 previous attempts.
Argentines have snapped up all 50,000 tickets for the game in Velez Sarsfield, eager to see a team who have won two games in the tournament for the first time since they joined the southern hemisphere’s elite in 2012.
The Pumas have added speed and flair to their traditional strength in the back line and in doing so recorded a home win over South Africa and a rare away victory against Australia.
They are hoping to carry that momentum forward and inflict on the All Blacks — who made seven changes to their matchday squad — their first back-to-back defeats since 2011.
Coach Mario Ledesma, however, warned his players they cannot read too much into a thrilling Springboks win that was marked by “atypical things you can’t train for”.
“They stole two balls and went in under the posts. You can’t teach that,” Ledesma said of two South African tries.
“And there is a lot we need to improve on, such as the break from midfield. Where you play the game is very important against this opponent.”
The All Blacks remain firm favourites to win the game, with a victory and a bonus point enough to guarantee them the Rugby Championship title for the third year running.
(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis)