Argentina centre Santiago Fernandez says a sustained 80-minute performance would be required to upset the All Blacks in La Plata on Saturday.
Although the teams are on opposite ends of the Rugby Championship spectrum, with the world champions unbeaten and the Pumas winless after four matches, Argentina have exceeded expectations with consistent competitive performances against the top three teams in world rugby.
Their Achilles heel has been their inability to match their opponents’ pace and intensity over 80 minutes as they squandered leads over the Springboks and Wallabies and leaked two late tries in their loss to the All Blacks.
Retained at inside centre for Saturday’s return match against New Zealand, Fernandez said it is imperative that the Argentine play for 80 minutes and attack with more zest in order to breach the All Black try-line.
“We hope to add even more weapons on offense and to deploy them on Saturday … we have to play the full 80 minutes. In the last two games we struggled to keep up with the pace in the last 20 minutes, and we try to improve that aspect, among others,” he said.
Fernandez said the Pumas were pleased to be back home and will feed off their passionate supporters on Saturday.
“I think it will be very nice [to play at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata] and hopefully a party as it was in Mendoza. One always hope to play at home. We now have our second game [at home] and hope people will join us on Saturday in La Plata. We have great expectations and are eager to get on to the field,” said Fernandez.
He admitted that nothing but a flawless performance would be needed if they were to achieve their first win over the All Blacks as well as in the Rugby Championship.
“We have to play a perfect game as they are world champions and the best team in the world. It is essential to have a solid defense and we have to make the most of the few opportunities we have, since they make very few mistakes and we want to use them,” he said.