Jump to main content



Kidney Looks Forward To Pumas Encounter

Kidney Looks Forward To Pumas Encounter

Ireland’s record against Argentina reads: played 10, won 5 and lost 5. Rugby World Cup defeats to the Pumas in Lens in 1999 and Paris last year stubbornly stick in the memory and with Saturday’s Test at Croke Park having added importance in terms of the 2011 RWC draw, Declan Kidney knows his players will not want for motivation.

Indeed, Ireland have not beaten Argentina since Ronan O’Gara landed a late, 47-metre drop goal to seal a 21-19 victory at Lansdowne Road in November 2004.

Argentina scored three straight wins over Ireland in 2007, a brace of summer successes coupled with that 30-15 World Cup pool win at Parc des Princes.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

And although they are adjusting to life under new coach Santiago Phelan, coping with retirements and some ill-timed injuries (Felipe Contepomi being the latest), Declan Kidney knows, from recent viewing, just how challenging the Pumas are to play against.

Phelan’s men are coming off the back of a 22-14 win over Italy last week, which moved them into the top four in the IRB World Rankings, and opened their season in June with a 21-15 defeat of Scotland.

“They are huge, physical men so it is not dissimilar to last Saturday,” Kidney said at the Irish team hotel in Killiney.

“I know the game during the summer (when they lost 63-9 to South Africa) was a bit one-sided in the end but Argentina were 9-0 up after 30 minutes even though South Africa had done a lot of the pressing.

“Argentina just have that ability to soak up a lot of pressure and they play with a great work ethic. They are a great team…they were 9-0 up (against South Africa) having done no pre-season work.

“They have played against France now, in Marseille, which is an extremely difficult place to go and that was decided on the odd kick. That could have gone in their favour.

“They looked even stronger in the Italy match because they put in a few more defensive nuances into the game.

“That put the Italians under that bit more pressure. Giving them another week under their belt means they will be even stronger now.”

Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton agreed that with the IRB World Rankings being used to divide the teams for next month’s World Cup draw, Argentina are coming to Dublin with a lot more than just pride to play for.

“I don’t think they need any other incentive to beat Ireland as they have done before but they still have a chance of retaining that fourth spot in the rankings,” he said.

“That would put them in the top tier (for the draw) if other results went the right way for them, so they certainly have something to fight for.”

Ireland’s preparations for their third match of the GUINNESS Series have been hampered by the citing of flanker Alan Quinlan, following a stamping incident in the New Zealand game, and a number of injuries.

Kidney has delayed his team selection until Thursday, by which time he should know whether Quinlan will be available and if injured trio Paul O’Connell, Rory Best and Geordan Murphy are fit to resume.

Commenting on O’Connell’s thigh injury, the Irish coach said: “Paul is being very diligent. He took a right thump on the leg and has a fair bit of swelling so it will be another number of days before we know if he is in or out.

“He hasn’t been ruled out yet. The first 48 hours are very important because he could have been ruled out straight off.

“He has worked hard on it though so he is still a possibility and we will have to see come Thursday.”

Malcolm O’Kelly will most likely profit should O’Connell miss out and Ireland’s lineout, which came under increased pressure against the All Blacks, will once more be a crucial area at Croke Park on Saturday.

Kidney added: “New Zealand took four of our lineout throws but two of those were at the back where Richie McCaw did a good job of getting a nudge in.

“The referee was watching something at the front so good experience tells you nudge at the back. That was two of the four we lost but you balance that off with the fact that we got five of theirs.

“I wouldn’t have been unhappy with our lineouts. You’d love to win every one but you have to be realistic.”

Asked about the possibility of Denis Leamy forcing his way into Saturday’s selection, with a big performance for Munster against New Zealand tonight, Kidney said Leamy needs time to regain his match sharpness.

“I think a Tuesday-Saturday would be hugely difficult. A lot of lads who started first games this year did quite well but weren’t anywhere near as good in their second game and then their consistency came back in their third, fourth and fifth games.

“We certainly wouldn’t rule him out but it would be unfair on him to just catapult him in.

“The main thing, when a guy comes back from a long term injury, and he has worked very hard to get back quickly, is he is back playing.”

Meanwhile, Argentina have been dealt a considerable blow ahead of of their first trip to Croke Park. An infection has ruled their team captain, Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi, out of the game.

The centre-cum-out-half cut his hand before the first game of Argentina’s European tour, then played against France and Italy in recent weeks but the infection now means he will not lineout against Ireland.

Argentina team doctor Guillermo Botto confirmed: “Felipe Contepomi is suffering from an infection as a result of a cut on his right hand. Because of this infection, he underwent a drainage and cleaning at St Vincent’s University Hospital.

“He will be unable to play against Ireland on Saturday.”