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Schmidt braced for battle with 'frustrated' foe Argentina

The head coach says the 2015 World Cup quarter-final defeat won’t play a part in Ireland’s motivation this week, but he will have to look back to the clash.

THERE WILL BE a few painful memories stoked for Joe Schmidt and his Ireland squad this week.

Argentina are coming to the Aviva Stadium to close out Ireland’s November Test series. So while the Kiwi insists the the crushing World Cup quarter-final exit in Cardiff won’t figure in his side’s motivations – understandably so, with only seven of that day’s XV likely to start on Saturday evening – it’s necessary to look back to the 20 – 43 reversal.

Ian Madigan Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

“We’ll have a look at a couple of things from that game because that’s the last time we played them and we’ll have a look at their last couple of games,” Schmidt said in the Aviva Stadium after Ireland took a 23 – 20 win over Fiji.

The most recent evidence of Argentina is a strong finish to rack up a 15 -31 win over Italy, though that result was in the balance until the 69th minute when the Pumas pulled clear from 15 – 17 with late tries from Marcos Kremer and the brilliant Joaquin Tuculet.

While that as going on, Schmidt was busy warming up his team, but he had gotten a close look at Argentina in their loss to England, another Test with a somewhat misleading final scoreline.

“I thought they were really competitive against England. They missed four shots at goal and if you add on those four shots at goal, the score suddenly condenses to a one-score game. 21-8 it finished. but with those four shots at goal, (it would have been) 21-20.

England v Argentina - Autumn International - Twickenham Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“So they really put some good pressure on England and I’ve no doubt they’ll come here looking to do the same thing.”

While Ireland may well feel the pain of the last meeting, Argentina have much more recent difficulties in their minds and in bodies fatigued by a long tough season. The win in Florence arrested a seven-game losing run, with Georgia accounted for as their only other win this year.

“I think they’re a team that feels a bit frustrated about their Rugby Championship performances,” adds Schmidt.

“There were times where they actually looked quite dominant in those games but they never sustained it and therefore teams got away on them.

“So I think they will be looking at us and wanting to make a statement because we’ve managed to fashion a reasonably good record in recent times and they will have some confidence based on last time.

“They’ve got a lot of the same players, especially in the forward pack and in the backline as well; (Martin) Landajo and Nicholas Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez is there, and they’ve got some new guys there like (Emiliano) Boffelli. He looks like an incredibly good player. Tuculet was world class against us in that quarter-final. So we’ve got a huge respect for Argentina and the quality they’ll bring.”

Damian McKenzie scores a try Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornega/INPHO

“It’s like in any sport, if you are constantly playing against the best, I think you get better, and I think you’re driven to get better, whereas I feel a bit for Fiji. They don’t have the same ability to have the same fixtures, and therefore they don’t get the same continuity of progression.

“It’s been tough for Argentina, because they wouldn’t have the same depth as those other rugby playing nations that South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, for them, when they’re missing key players it is a big difference.”

 “They didn’t have Nicolás Sánchez last week and they didn’t kick those goals, and he’s a phenomenally good goal-kicker. So those guys make a real difference for them and I think they’ll come here fully-loaded and I think it will be a really big test for both sides, because we’re determined not to make it easy for them and certainly not to give them the head start we gave them the last time.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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