The Rugby Championship
An annual competition involving the southern hemisphere’s top four rugby-playing nations – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. Known as the Tri Nations from 1996 to 2012, when the Pumas were invited to join the party.
Aussies prepare for Pumas pounding
Robbie Deans, the embattled coach of Australia, has beefed up his team in anticipation of a pounding from Argentina today.
The New Zealand-born coach made five changes to the team crushed 31-8 by South Africa last weekend – a third defeat in five southern hemisphere championship outings for the injury-stricken Wallabies.
Mike Harris replaces Berrick Barnes at fullback, Ben Tapuai comes in for Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside centre and Nick Cummins wins a first cap on the right wing with Dominic Shipperley relegated to the reserves.
Although last-placed Argentina were swamped 54-15 by champions New Zealand in La Plata last weekend, Deans is under no illusions about the threat posed by the South Americans as they seek a first Championship victory.
“We know the Pumas will come straight at us, hoping to profit at the collisions the same way the Springboks did last weekend,” he said.
“That issue has been addressed – internally in our discussions and also in our team selections – and we have gone for players best suited to a physical approach.”
Argentina coach and former World Cup loose forward Santiago Phelan has refused to panic after the seven-try mauling in La Plata, naming the same starting line-up for the Australia test.
He hopes his show of faith will heal most of the mental scars inflicted by world champions New Zealand, who recovered from conceding an early try to provide a masterclass of power and pace.
Replacement back Martin Rodriguez dislocated a shoulder trying to stem the All Blacks tide and his place on the bench goes to Nicolas Sanchez, who stood in for injured Juan Martin Hernandez in a 16-16 home draw against South Africa.
A second change in the substitutes sees forward Leonardo Senatore replace Tomas Vallejos.