SYDNEY, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The struggling Wallabies will face
a fearsome Argentine forward engine in Perth this weekend, as the
former giants of world rugby seek to haul themselves off the bottom
of the Championship table.
While the Wallabies are a team in disarray three Tests into the
McKenzie era, the Pumas arrive In Perth bristling with confidence
and may never get a better shot at pegging Australia down at
The Argentines have made five key changes after their honorable
28-13 loss to the power of the All Blacks last weekend.
The fearless and ever improving Argentinian squad features the
return of evergreen 85-test veteran Felipe Contemponi;
inspirational strongman Juan Martin Fernandez at flanker and last
week' s highly-impressive Juan Manuel Leguizamon slotting back in
at No.8 for his half century of Tests.
With the world' s best scrumhalf, Will Genia dropped to the
bench amid howls of protest from an adoring Australian public and
stalwart captain James Horwill watching from the stands, all eyes
have turned to Brumbies half Nic White and team mate Ben Mowen, who
will captain the Australians in only his 7th test match.
The Pumas have made it all too clear that they will be targeting
a fragile Wallabies forward pack still licking their wounds after
being demolished by the Springboks last weekend.
In contrast the Pumas are coming off another special performance
against the might of the All Blacks where they dominated for long
periods of the game, despite fisnihing second best on the
The battle-hardened Pumas have made five changes to the squad
that lost to the All Blacks in Hamilton, although leading Prop
Marcos Ayerza will be hungry to team with Agustin Creevy elevated
to starting hooker forcing Eusebio Guinazu to the bench.
The Puma' s left winger Juan Imhoff is in the run on side after
replacing Gonzalo Camacho, who dislocated a shoulder against the
The other four changes see scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli forcing
Martin Landajo to the bench, while point-scoring genius Felipe
Contepomi and the London Welsh-based Gonzalo Tiesi form an imposing
For the wallabies, 2013 has already been a bloodbath.
Skipper James Horwill leads the walking wounded and will remain
stalking the sidelines with a hamstring injury while a garrison of
Australia' s best are already out for the rest of the year. Among
them are hard running centre, Pat McCabe (neck) Hugh Mc Meniman
(shoulder, neck) and power runner Digby Ioane (shoulder). As well
as Wycliff Palu (knee), Kurtley Beale (shoulder), David Pocock
(knee), and the ball-runner Australia desperately need back on the
paddock - Scott Higginbotham (shoulder).
Rookie Coach Ewan McKenzie (none from three and counting)
managed to stun all comers when he dropped scrumhalf Genia to the
bench, allowing Nic White to make his maiden run-on start.
The return of Ben Alexander at starting tight-head for Sekope
Kepu is the only other change to the starting line-up thrashed by
the Springboks. Despite mounting criticism, McKenzie has backed
White to fill Genia' s shoes.
He told reporters this week that White had deserved his
"He' s is one of the guys I didn' t know much about. He has done
everything! He' s impressed me and he has taken the little moments
on the field that we have given him."
Looking every bit the international discard in 2012, Brumbies
inspirational captain Mwean has forced his way into the wallabies
starting line up through sheer grit, he has taken every opportunity
offered and deserves his moment in the sun as the 80th Australian
to captain the Wallabies in just his 7th match in the green and
McKenzie said Australia would face the Puma' s upfront.
"I think one of our big strengths that gives us confidence is
playing the physical game - the tight forward game. We pride
ourselves in that area."
"It' s the sort of game we need. We need a physical challenge to
get ourselves right."
And physical it will be. The Wallabies are now desperately
winless in three matches under new coach McKenzie, the man who was
supposedly destined to right the sinking ship of Australian
There were glimmers of hope in Wellington - after the
humiliation of the historic 47-29 hammering in Sydney - but the
Springboks clash was a major step backwards on the long road to
A rampant Springboks side nailed a four-tries-to-nil masterclass
in their emphatic 38-12 smashing.
With confidence scattered, a playing roster fit for a military
hospital and public discontent growing while the national team
wallows at the base of the Rugby Championship ladder, the
Argentinians will be smelling blood, and that is what they will be
seeking in Perth on Saturday. Enditem