Argentina take on New Zealand in their opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday and it is hard to look past the All Blacks as winners.
This year’s event is an abridged tournament due to the upcoming Word Cup but, far from taking it easy, New Zealand will want to put down a marker for the defence of their title.
A price of 4/23 for New Zealand to win does not seem exactly appetising and so the handicap might be the way to go, especially with the Pumas at home for their curtain raiser.
It would seem fanciful that the Buenos Aires crowd will be able to lift their heroes to a famous victory over the All Blacks but they will certainly look to keep it tight for as long as possible.
The Kiwis, 11/10 to win the World Cup, are missing a number of key players, however, and that will give the hosts a lift, but skipper Sam Cane has made it clear that his men are fully focused on the job in hand and are not thinking about the World Cup.
“Here in Buenos Aires is a tough challenge, so we’re looking no further this weekend,” he said. “Hopefully we can put on a performance to be proud of.”
Argentina have lost 31 of their 32 Test matches against New Zealand, with a solitary draw way back in 1985 but with Steve Hansen resting all of the Canterbury players, the home side will look to cause an upset.
Record point-scorer and fly-half Nicolas Sanchez is back in the ranks to bolster Argentina’s chances, while uncapped winger Sevu Reece, 13/2 first try scorer, will start for the All Blacks.
Four others – prop Atu Moli, loose forward Luke Jacobson, fly-half Josh Ioane, and outside back Braydon Ennor are expected to make their Test debuts from the bench.
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