Nathan Sharpe warns on Argentina danger
Agence France-Presse on the Gold Coast
Wallabies skipper Nathan Sharpe yesterday warned his team against complacency when they face Argentina, who he described as a spirited and passionate side.
Australia face the Pumas on the Gold Coast today, hoping to build on their 26-19 win against South Africa last week.
But Sharpe is wary after watching the Pumas push the All Blacks hard for 60 minutes last weekend before eventually fading to lose 21-5. They also held the Springboks to a 16-16 draw in Mendoza, Argentina, last month.
"The main memory I do have is the unorthodox method in which they play," Sharpe, who clashed with them in 2003, said.
"They're a very passionate team and it's something that's been identified in the first games of the Rugby Championship and one that you look at in every World Cup, they're always competitive due to that spirit."
Sharpe leads the Wallabies after previous skipper Will Genia injured his knee last weekend.
"They don't generally have a consistent stand-out, they just perform well and put in for each other and that's what makes them a dangerous team," Sharpe said. "You talk about their defence and all the rest of it, it's not always the most structured but it's frenetic."
The Pumas, guided by former New Zealand coach Graham Henry, are desperate for a win - which would also be their first triumph on Australian soil in 29 years.
Despite being the underdogs, Argentina believe the injury-ravaged Australia are vulnerable without halfback Genia and Perth man-of-the-match Sitaleki Timani.
But Sharpe expects replacements Nick Phipps and Kane Douglas and the rest of his team to respond.
"It's good for the team because people have to step up," he said.
"When you are faced with a situation generally that's when things come to the fore, when there's a need for it then people step up and I'm looking forward to seeing that happen on the weekend.
"It's not just about Phippsy coming in and playing well, it's about everyone else fulfilling an extra one or two per cent of a role that they may not naturally do when Will's there and the result could be surprising."
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan made two changes to his backline for today's clash with halfback Nicolas Vergallo and fullback Martin Rodriguez being dropped and replaced by Martin Landajo and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Vice-captain Patricio Albacete, a stand-out in the Argentine second row, will earn his 50th cap, facing Sharpe who has played 109 internationals.