Hansen fires Pumas warning

steve hansenNew Zealand coach Steve Hansen believes Argentina should not be under-estimated ahead of their debut in the newly-expanded Rugby Championship (New Zealand 8/13 favourites to win the tournament).

A new era in rugby union begins next Saturday when the Pumas travel to Cape Town to play South Africa, their first match in the Four Nations, which replaces the Tri Nations Championship that featured Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

They are expected to struggle in their tournament debut, given they have a poor record against the other three sides (Argentina 100/1 to win the tournament).

They have never beaten South Africa, have one draw against New Zealand and have only beaten Australia once in 25 years.

However, they are a rapidly improving team who have climbed to eighth in the world rankings and reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup last autumn.

That improvement has come as no surprise to Hansen, who can only see the benefits of having them included in the new competition.

“Argentina are a very good rugby side and have been for a long time,” said Hansen. “Their home record is particularly impressive, not many people go there and win.

“It will be good for the game and it is certainly going to challenge us. It’s a 15-hour flight to Buenos Aires, a 15-hour time difference and then we have to fly to South Africa to play the Springboks. It will be interesting to see how we cope.”

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