“If you go to a bull-fighting ring with two wounded bulls, it is going to be a hell of a fight” … Enrique Rodriguez, centre.ROSARIO: Enrique ”Topo” Rodriguez has warned the Wallabies they are about to be involved in one of the most confronting and demanding of Tests when they play his country of birth, Argentina.
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, 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 the importance of discipline in keeping the Pumas at bay.
The Pumas are confident of achieving their first Rugby Championship win by downing the injury-racked Wallabies. Rodriguez said the Rosario Test would be one of the most aggressive of this year’s tournament.
”If you go to a bull-fighting ring with two wounded bulls, it is going to be a hell of a fight,” Rodriguez said while watching the Wallabies conduct their captain’s run at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.
The renowned tighthead 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,” he said.
If the Wallabies falter, it will destabilise coach Robbie Deans, who is under threat of being replaced. Although his squad has been decimated by injuries this season, several Australian Rugby Union board members are starting to question whether to persevere with Deans after a haphazard Bledisloe Cup campaign and losing to Scotland.
Quade Cooper’s public assault on Deans, in which he said he did not want to play for the Wallabies because of a ”toxic” environment, has not helped. Two losses on the road would intensify the push for Reds coach Ewen McKenzie taking over from Deans, possibly as early as the end-of-season northern hemisphere tour in November-December.
Rodriguez told the players Argentina is ”a country full of sporting heroes” and the nation expects a lot from athletes and teams. So it is important to remain composed against them.
”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. You have to control the brain because that controls the body and when you have that you produce the required skills,” Rodriguez said. ”As the brain can be very fickle, you need to be disciplined in order to ensure a good performance.”
That includes controlling your aggression and not getting distracted by the capacity crowd, which is bound to be deafening in a small stadium where the spectators are only metres from the field.
Rodriguez also stressed the Wallabies have to take advantage of their better conditioning because the Pumas’ fitness level can be exposed by 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,” Rodriguez said.
Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe emphasised that speed to the breakdown will be crucial. Their breakdown work fell short in Pretoria and drastic improvement is required, especially as the Pumas are so effective in killing opposition ball at the tackle.
”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..
”One of the things which hurt us against South Africa was the impact of Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw. And they play a similar lockdown style of play to the Argentinians. Once you’re half a second too late it is very hard to get those guys off the ball.”
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.