Skipper Lobbe hails Henry’s galvanising effect on Pumas

Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe has credited New Zealand’s World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry with transforming the Pumas’ self-belief.

Lobbe’s side play old enemies Ireland this Saturday at the Aviva Stadium having made an impressive debut against the old Tri-Nations countries in the inaugural Rugby Championship this summer. They followed it up with a superb victory over Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium two weekends back.

Back-row star Lobbe was man of the match against Wales and paid tribute to the work put in by Henry, who worked for three months as a technical advisor to Los Pumas during the Championship.

“It is great to learn from someone who has the experience of 140 Test matches,” Lobbe told the IRB’s Total Rugby Radio.

“People like him know everything about rugby. He knows how to talk to you and has a passion for the sport. What you have to do is open up your senses, listen to him and take advantage of all those experiences.”

That view was backed by Argentina’s try-scoring hero in Cardiff, Exeter wing Gonzalo Camacho.

“Graham Henry give us a lot of confidence, attacking-wise, so it was quite good to have someone like him, to say: ‘c’mon guys, you can just go and throw everything at them’,” Camacho said yesterday.

“And he was very good in the details of our attack. It’s good he could come with us and show his appreciation to the Argentinian players and I think it worked as well with the coaches.”

Camacho also praised the captaincy of Toulon back-row Lobbe, who first skippered the Pumas three years ago in defeat to Ireland at Croke Park, permanently succeeding Felipe Contepomi this summer against South Africa.

“He is a great captain. He always leads by example in his performance and his work rate. Everything he does he puts the team in front of everything and that’s a good leader. We appreciate him,” Camacho said.

The Argentine wing, 28, did not play in the last meeting between Ireland and Argentina two years ago, when the home side gained a win at the newly-opened Aviva Stadium in a one-sided 29-9 affair. Camacho said Los Pumas were intent on making amends, buoyed by increased time together as a squad and playing better given their exposure to the Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks.

“Obviously they have massive players and very important players, but it would be good if we can bring that again, that atmosphere.

“In 2010, maybe we were tired, now we have more confidence and a team that is growing.

“At that time we had a lot of experienced people like Ledesma, Roncero and Contepomi but now we have a new team with new people coming up. It will be a massive game.”

Camacho says Argentina know exactly what to expect from Ireland.

“Oh, very physical,” he said. “They have massive forwards. The back row is amazing, their work rate.

“They have very intelligent centres, and as well at nine and 10. They will be right on the spot if there is space at the backfield or just running. They like to play pick and go too so it is going to be very physical and I think very similar to France, they try to offload a lot and also have the [kicking] skills to put it in the backfield if they need it.”

Contepomi was injured against Wales and Argentina lost the services of Bath wing Horacio Agulla in the France game and then ruled out full-back Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and tighthead prop Juan Figallo for this weekend’s Dublin Test. Figallo may not have been available anyway as he was yesterday citedfor an alleged head button French captain Pascal Papé.

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