The key talking points ahead of Wales’ clash with Argentina

Wales continue their Autumn Nations Series campaign on Saturday when they tackle Argentina at the Principality Stadium.

The game comes just seven days after a 55-23 defeat against New Zealand – the most points ever conceded by Wales in Cardiff.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some key talking points ahead of Argentina’s visit.

Pressure mounting on Wayne Pivac?

Wayne Pivac
Wayne Pivac has experienced highs and lows as Wales head coach (Joe Giddens/PA)

Wales head coach Pivac has been in charge for 31 Tests, winning 12 of those, drawing one and losing 18 since succeeding Warren Gatland. His reign has delivered some memorable moments – a 2021 Six Nations title triumph and an away victory over South Africa – but crushing lows like a first home loss to Italy and successive 50-point drubbings by New Zealand in Cardiff. Wales have won only two of nine games against major southern hemisphere opposition, while their overall Six Nations success-rate under Pivac is just 40 per cent. Ten months out from the World Cup, their main consistency is inconsistency.

World rankings tell a story

Three years and three months ago, Wales were on top of the world, enjoying a brief stint as rugby union’s number one-ranked team. That status followed a 14-match unbeaten run under Gatland between March 2018 and August 2019. It is a distant memory now, though, with Wales dropping to ninth after Argentina and Scotland went above them following their New Zealand defeat last weekend. Wales’ Six Nations rivals Ireland, France, England and Scotland all occupy higher places approaching the end of a year that has so far seen Pivac’s team win just two Tests and lose seven.

Pumas on the prowl

Argentina players celebrate beating England at Twickenham (David Davies/PA)

Wales’ overall record against Argentina is a strong one, winning 13 and drawing one of 20 Tests played between the countries. But this year’s form guide suggests that Pivac’s team should be on red alert. Argentina posted notable Rugby Championship victories over Australia (48-17) and New Zealand (25-18, away from home), before launching their autumn campaign by defeating England through a first Twickenham win against them since 2006. While Wales claimed a first success against the Springboks on South African soil in the summer, their form has proved erratic, and Argentina will not require a second invitation to pounce.

Wales must get physical

Wales finished a distant second-best when it came to the physical, collision-based areas against New Zealand, with 25 missed tackles telling a gruesome story as the All Blacks ran in eight tries. Wales defence coach Gethin Jenkins said: “We knew pretty much what was coming in terms of New Zealand’s power game, their pick and goes and their forward carriers. They didn’t surprise us – we just couldn’t match that.” Argentina will hope to buckle Wales in similar fashion via a pack that rarely comes off second-best.

Taulupe Faletau a class apart

Eleven years after he made his Wales debut, number eight Faletau continues to perform at a level consistently higher than most of those around him. He will be 32 on the day Wales face Argentina, but his imperious powers show no sign of waning. In defeat against New Zealand last weekend, Faletau’s statistics were extraordinary. He made 26 tackles and missed none, while his 15 carries were three more than anyone else managed in the Wales team. The Cardiff forward delivers one world-class display after another, and a 92nd Wales appearance promises to be no different.