Pumas set for home clash

Fri, 24 Aug 10:48:29 2012

Argentina will make their eagerly-awaited home debut in the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship on Saturday.

But they must tackle South Africa in Mendoza without star fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez, who was injured during a training session earlier this week and has been replaced by Nicolas Sanchez.

A capacity 50,000 crowd is expected for arguably the biggest day in Argentina's rugby history. But the Pumas have their work cut out, given they lost to the Springboks in Cape Town last weekend and have never beaten South Africa from 14 attempts.

The visitors have also suffered an injury blow, with powerhouse hooker Bismarck du Plessis sidelined, yet South Africa will still start as firm favourites.

And their cause was helped significantly when wing Bryan Habana passed a fitness test on Wednesday after suffering an ankle injury during the victory at Newlands.

"Having Bryan is obviously a big boost as we've lost a number of players with lots of experience after J P Pietersen, Pierre Spies and Bismarck du Plessis already had to withdraw from our squad," Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer told www.sarugby.net.

Adrian Strauss replaces du Plessis, meanwhile, with a rejigged back-row seeing Jacques Potgieter starting at blindside flanker and Willem Alberts moving to number eight. Keegan Daniel drops down to the bench.

Meyer added: "It was a difficult decision between Jacques and Keegan, but we have gone with horses for courses this time.

"We are expecting it will be very physical early in the game and it might open up later, which perfectly suits the strong-points of both Jacques and Keegan.

"The Pumas also mauled quite well in Cape Town and we were not happy with the defence of their mauls, so with the extra weight Jacques brings we will have to ensure we stop their drives."


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