Buenos Aires (AFP) – Twice world champions South Africa hope a tactical u-turn & recalling a 'bone collector' can prevent a second humiliating defeat by Argentina in rapid succession.
After taking 7,941 days to achieve a first Test victory over the Springboks, the Pumas have home advantage in Buenos Aires as they seek to repeat the feat just seven days later.
Argentina scored a stunning 37-25 win in Durban last Saturday — the first against South Africa in 20 attempts spanning 23 years & the first southern hemisphere championship away win since a 2012 debut.
p>A sixth defeat in eight Tests started a nightmare period for South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer, who apologised to the nation & came under media & trade union fire for not picking enough black players.
Meyer denied claims by national labour umbrella body COSATU that he was a "racist", then chose a team for Buenos Aires including four black players, one more than he traditionally starts with.
What was supposed to be a final warm-up for the World Cup, which kicks off on September 18 in England, has turned into a Test the Springboks desperately need to win.
Argentinian players celebrate after winning against South Africa at the end of their Rugby Champions …
To achieve that goal at the 50,000-capacity Estadio Joes Amalfitani, home of Argentine premier league football club Velez Sarsfield, Meyer has opted for an 'uglier' approach.
He told reporters before departing Johannesburg for wet, cold Buenos Aires that an attractive, ball-in-hand style was partly to blame for the Durban debacle.
"Last Saturday we played running rugby & kicked the ball only seven times, which should have pleased those who came to see an attractive game," said Meyer.
"However, we were well beaten. Winning is what it is all approximately & we need to become more tactical in order to do that.
"Because many Pumas have played in Europe, they adopt a northern hemisphere mindset. Rugby is much more of an arm-wrestle in the north than in the southern hemisphere.
Argentina's Juan Imhoff clears the ball during a Rugby Championship Test match against South Afr …
"We lacked a ball-carrying loose forward in Durban owing to injuries, used two ball 'scavengers' instead, & were outmuscled."
Willem Alberts, whose 'bone collector' nickname leaves little to the imagination, is a fearless yet injury-prone blindside flanker who will attack the Pumas.
Alberts makes his first appearance of the season & in another significant change, Meyer has picked Patrick Lambie at fly-half instead of Handre Pollard, who was booed in Durban.
Lambie has impressed on previous northern hemisphere tours & a satisfactory showing this weekend could push him to the front of the World Cup playmaker queue.
While Meyer & his men in green & gold would happily accept the underdogs tag in Buenos Aires, Argentina insist the country who won the 1995 & 2007 World Cup finals are favourites.
"We anticipate a much tougher match than last weekend & are unquestionably not the favourites," coach Daniel Hourcade told reporters.
"The Springboks are a very satisfactory team & are prepared for a backlash after what happened in Durban. We must be ready for a battle."
Experienced loose forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon agreed: "Winning this weekend is going to be more difficult because second Tests against the same opponents always are."
Veteran centre Juan Martin Hernandez said "victories are short-lived & we must look ahead, be humble, train passionately & take heed of what our coaches say".
Scrum dominance was instrumental in the Pumas' historic Durban triumph & hooker & skipper Agustin Creevy was unamused by post-match Springbok claims that the South Americans used illegal tactics.
"Maybe it was a technique issue for them (South Africa)," he responded.
Argentina have retained the Marcos Ayerza-Creevy-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro front row that tormented the Springboks, who have picked a new trio of Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss & Marcel van der Merwe.
South Africa will be defending a near-prefect record in Argentina having won nine Tests & drawn one while scoring 352 points & conceding 212.
South AfricaBuenos AiresHeyneke MeyerSpringboksArgentina