Los Pumas face a baptism of fire on the weekend as they travel to Cape Town for the opening round of the new-look Championship.
Hot on the heels of a Super XV season which saw South Africa snare three of the six play-off spots, the home side’s confidence will be high as players swap club colours for the Springbok jersey.
Of course, the Argentinians will bring plenty of passion, but of all the teams to make their debut appearance against, the South Africans are most equipped to deal with Los Pumas’ most effective weapon – the scrum. Argentinian rugby has been based around set pieces for years, but with tried and true combinations in place, including an all-Sharks front row, the ‘Boks won’t be terribly troubled.
Frans Steyn continues his welcome return to South African rugby, slotting in to the backline at 12, while talismanic fly-half Morne Steyn will be looking to exorcise the demons of a lackluster personal performance in his last outing, when he failed to spark the Bulls during their quarter-final loss to the Crusaders during the Super XV.
It will undoubtedly be a physical battle, and will inevitably be niggly, but power and skill will eventually subdue the visitors. Had their first game of the championship been at home, with a passionate Latin crowd behind them and the adrenalin of finally being able to mix it with the big boys coursing through their veins, the Argentinians may have stood a chance. But in Cape Town, against a side stacked full of some of the world’s most in-form players, it would be a stunning upset should they get up.
My Tip? Springboks by 20.