Alarm bells ringing as Argentina brush Wales aside
Wales 12 Argentina 26:Wales return to their training camp today to prepare for a second potentially bruising encounter in six days – this time against Samoa – with warnings from their stand-in coach and one of their more senior players about the difficulties of keeping pace with southern hemisphere rugby.
Rob Howley, in charge for two games while Warren Gatland concentrates on his work with the Lions, and Gethin Jenkins, capped 91 times, raised worryingly similar alarms about the huge step up sides make by playing in the Rugby Championship – the southern hemisphere’s version of the Six Nations.
They were speaking after Wales, champions of Europe, had come off distinctly second best against Argentina, bottom of the table in their first Rugby Championship this summer.
The best achieved by the Pumas in their debut season was a 16-16 draw against South Africa but they twice pushed Australia close and Jenkins believes they have emerged a better side than any of the five he had previously faced.
“I’ve played Argentina before but they have definitely upped the level,” he said.
Wales had conceded two tries and 17 points in seven minutes, swapping a 12-6 lead for the first defeat by an Argentina side in Cardiff in 11 years and Jenkins had no doubt that they had benefited from their summer experiences.
“Playing six games against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and you get adjusted to that level,” he said before disagreeing with Howley’s suggestion that increased intensity in training would bridge the gap between the two sides.
“When you are playing at the highest level and that intensity, that’s when you get used to it,” Jenkins said. “There is only so much you can replicate in training. It’s match smartness when you’re out there and under pressure.”
To make matters worse, Wales are likely be missing two more players who were key to their Six Nations and World Cup success last year when they face Samoa, once one of their bogey sides.
Jamie Roberts was out cold for at least two minutes after running into the former London Irish and Harlequins centre Gonzalo Tiesi, while Alun Wyn Jones has damaged ligaments in his left shoulder.
Argentina head to France without Felipe Contepomi, who damaged right knee ligaments in Cardiff.