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Wales primed for Argentina "chaos"

Published 11/11/2016

Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde expects a strong test from Argentina in Saturday's clash at the Principality Stadium
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde expects a strong test from Argentina in Saturday's clash at the Principality Stadium

Wales have been placed on alert that Argentina will aim to "create as much chaos as possible" in Saturday's Principality Stadium clash.

Just a week after being crushed 32-8 at home by Australia, Wales face the Wallabies' Rugby Championship rivals in an encounter given added significance by their miserable autumn series opener.

Interim head coach Rob Howley reacted to that defeat - Wales' heaviest home loss for 10 years - by making six changes, including dropping 84 times-capped midfield mainstay Jamie Roberts to the bench and recalling his fellow Test Lions Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones.

Wales have beaten Argentina seven times from nine attempts in Cardiff, and a similar result on Saturday under the stadium's closed roof would at least put the autumn campaign back on track ahead of meeting Japan and South Africa later this month.

"It was a very uncharacteristic performance last Saturday," Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Robin McBryde said.

"There were two things - how good Australia were, and how uncharacteristic we were defensively. It was just one of those first halves. At half-time, we were left scratching our heads, really.

"Argentina are consistent performers in the Rugby Championship. They will be physical, they will be fast.

"They will have looked at our performance from last weekend, and we have got to put that right with regards to how we defend the threats they pose. Any loose kicks, they are going to look to run it back and try to create as much chaos as possible, which is the type of game they thrive on.

"You are hoping for a reaction. The (Wales) players know what is ahead of them tomorrow, they know what is asked of them.

"There was nobody more disappointed than the players themselves in that they didn't front up last Saturday.

"It really is a measure of the team and all of us, really, in how we perform tomorrow and come back stronger."

Warburton, back in the team after injury, has seen prop Gethin Jenkins retain the captaincy on an occasion when Jenkins will make a world record-breaking 133rd Test match appearance for a front-row forward.

But the Cardiff Blues flanker still has an integral leadership role to play when Wales target what would be their first win since they destroyed Italy on the final day of last season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

"For the first 24 hours after a result like that (against Australia), you go home, pretty much waiting for the next training day to try to put things right," Warburton said.

"You only need that carrot dangled in front of you of starting for Wales against Argentina on Saturday, and you are desperate to go out there and put in a performance which everyone will be proud of and we know we are capable of doing.

"It's annoying the last game we played was a defeat, which we admit was a poor performance. So we are desperate to put that right and prove to our fans what we are capable of. That's enough motivation for the players."

Warburton, meanwhile, paid a glowing tribute to his Blues and Wales colleague Jenkins, who will be 36 next week but shows no obvious sign of slowing up as he moves past ex-New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu and into fourth place on rugby union's all-time cap list behind Richie McCaw, Brian O'Driscoll and George Gregan.

"Gethin is in that top category as one of Wales' greatest players," Warburton added.

"Two or three years ago, people would be saying he's slowing down, but I haven't seen him slow down at all in training or in games.

"With Gethin, he is second to none performance-wise. He always puts his body on the line. He empties the tank, and I really respect that.

"He leads from the front, and tactically he is very astute and a very intelligent rugby player. He is very good on the field at problem-solving.

"It sounds an easy thing to do, but when you are in the heat of a Test match there might be something which is going on, whether it's a driving line-out or an attacking play which hasn't worked. He is very good at changing that, which a lot of players can't do."

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