A heavy quarter-final defeat at the 2015 World Cup in Cardiff has been a painful touchstone for Schmidt and Ireland ever since that November night when the Pumas exploited an inexperienced side missing the injured Paul O’Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony and Jared Payne as well as the suspended Sean O’Brien.
The 43-20 loss has fuelled Schmidt’s determination for Ireland not to be left so exposed by injuries to frontliners again, a point further evidenced by Saturday’s selection of a second-string XV to face Fiji in Dublin. The first rematch with Argentina since the World Cup is now next in line as Ireland close out their 2017 Guinness Series but though the Ireland management will use the quarter-final as a reference point in terms of video analysis during this week’s preparations, revenge will not be offered as a motivational tool.
“Not in our motivation,” Schmidt said. “We’ll have a look at a couple of things from that game because that’s the last time we played them and we’ll have a look at their last couple of games, Italy (on Saturday) and I watched the game against England.
“I thought they were really competitive against England. They missed four shots at goal and if you add on those four shots at goal, the score suddenly condenses to a one-score game, 21-9 I think it finished yet those four shots at goal, it (would have been) 21-20.
“It is literally another Test match. They’re a team that feels a bit frustrated about their Rugby Championship performances. There were times where they actually looked quite dominant in those games but they never sustained it.
“They will be looking at us and wanting to make a statement. They’ve got a lot of the same players, especially in the forward pack and in the backline as well, (Martin) Landajo and Nicholas Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez, and they’ve got some new guys there like (Emiliano) Boffelli. He looks like an incredibly good player. (Joaquin) Tuculet was world class against us in that quarter-final.”
Argentina arrives in Ireland after snapping a seven-game losing streak in Florence on Saturday when they defeated Italy 31-15 for only their second win of 2017, the other coming against Georgia in June.
Otherwise, it has been a tough slog for Daniel Hourcade’s side of exclusively home-based players, losing both Tests on home soil to England before a winless Rugby Championship.