As the build-up continues to tonight’s first Test between Ireland and Argentina in Santa, we get the thoughts of three of Ireland’s starting XV – Keith Gleeson, Isaac Boss and Paddy Wallace.
– ON THE ARGENTINIAN SIDE –
“They’re a very proud nation when it comes to sport – especially when it comes to rugby – so we’re expecting a very physical game. It doesn’t matter if some of their players aren’t household names, they’ll still play the Pumas’ way, which is a big strong scrum and a big forward-orientated, mauling game, and you’ve got to take them on.
“You’ve got to beat them up in the areas of the game they think they’re good at, and hopefully then put their backs – and they’ve some very gifted backs – under pressure. If you allow their forwards to get on top then suddenly you’ve got the likes of Felipe and company running at you, and that I can only imagine is not a pleasant experience.”
– ON TOURING IN ARGENTINA –
“Make no mistake about it – it’s a very tough place to play. The All Blacks were here last year and were lucky to come away with a win. This is my first time touring Argentina but I can only imagine that it’s one of the more tougher places around. But we’ve prepared ourselves mentally for the challenge and we’re going to be up for it.
“You find with their supporters that they’re very patriotic and very passionate and they will be singing and chanting during the game. It will be like a soccer atmosphere – it will be a testing atmosphere.”
– ON ARGENTINA AS AN INTERNATIONAL SIDE –
“They’re trying to push themselves forward, and they seem to be very strong at the moment against some of the biggest nations in the world. They’ve got a lot of guys playing professionally in France, England and of course we’ve Felipe (Contepomi) playing in Ireland, so they’re world class performers.
“They do lack that regular international tournament – every one of the top flight nations has one. You can see how much Italy have improved since they came into the Six Nations, so I can only imagine the benefits it would have for a strong Argentinian side.”
– ON STARTING AT NUMBER 10 –
“It was nice to get my opportunity in the autumn, albeit against the Pacific Islanderss, and do myself a bit of justice. It helped to raise the bar for the summer tour to Argentina.
“I won’t be playing in as strong a team. It is going to be a tough assignment. I am one of the few guys that were in the squad for the Six Nations. So, I suppose there will be more responsibility on my shoulders.”
– ON HIS PASSING –
“It might be something that suits the style of play Argentina will throw at us because they tend to have an aggressive rush defence. The slight of hands and the delayed passes, like the one I put Denis (Hickie) in for against Pacific Islanders, may come into the game plan.
“We have been discussing how to attack against that type of defence. They are things that might be of benefit. I practice them on a daily basis and, hopefully, they will stick on tour.”
– ON HIS DEFENSIVE WORK –
“Defensively, I have dealt with a few technical issues. I am smaller than your average centres and that puts a bigger priority on your technique. I have worked hard with Neil Kelly at Ulster and Graham Steadman whenever I am with Ireland.
“It is about looking at the video, looking at the analysis and putting those things that went wrong right. There are stats available with Ulster and at Ireland to let you know where you are going wrong. That is for sure!”