December 5, 2013
Pumas face Springboks searching for lost identity
Argentina must come back from the abyss of lost identity and pride as a rugby team by recovering their strengths in defence and fighting spirit when they face South Africa again in Mendoza, centre Marcelo Bosch said.
The Pumas were humiliated 73-13 by the Springboks in Soweto last weekend, a nine-try record Rugby Championship mauling in which, players admitted, they had been broken by their opponents.
Argentina cannot realistically aspire to a repeat of the 16-16 draw they managed a year ago in their debut season against the same opponents at the same Malvinas Argentinas stadium on Saturday.
But all week they have talked up their will to recover their trademark strengths in defence, set pieces and never-say-die attitude and Bosch said that wanting to expand their game might have worked against them.
"Maybe last year we also lost matches by big scores but I felt the team were there and confident in what they were doing. Last Saturday it was different," Bosch said.
"What we had been building for a long time was broken," he told reporters after a midweek practice.
"We weren't mentally prepared to handle what was happening to us. The challenge is to recover our identity in defence, which served us so well last year, and our game with the pack.
"Set pieces nowadays are essential, you can't play without them. You can't play a maul or scrum going backwards all the time, or a lineout that doesn't guarantee you quality balls to launch your game.
"Last year we had two good matches against (South Africa). We left the pitch strong and thinking we could do more," Bosch added.
"Maybe (last Saturday) we were aiming a lot at improving our attacking play and, unconsciously, we forgot about what makes this team strong, our identity which is defence and set pieces."