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Joe Schmidt looking forward to 'very tough' Test against Argentina

Updated: Friday, 06 Jun 2014 16:19 | Comments

Joe Schmidt emphasises the Argentina Test as both a challenge and an opportunity
Joe Schmidt emphasises the Argentina Test as both a challenge and an opportunity

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Ahead of Ireland's Saturday evening Test match against Argentina, coach Joe Schmidt has talked of the unique challenges his team will face against the combative side. 

Before November's Guinness Series, which will see Ireland facing off against Australia, South Africa and Georgia, the team has travelled to Argentina, where they will face the hosts in a two-match Test tour.

Former Leinster manager Schmidt is very aware of the challenges facing his side in South America.

"It’s going to be very, very tough here [in Argentina,]" Schmidt told RTÉ Sport.

"It'll be hostile. It's a place where Test-match rugby hasn't been before. The local population will be very much behind the Argentinians. It's a pitch that's a different size.

"The combative way the Argentinians play, they're a little bit more unknown, they're a little bit harder to predict than other teams we've played."

Thinking back to his childhood days, Schmidt said he has followed the Argentinians for decades and has been impressed by their intensity when playing on home soil.

"I've seen Argentinian teams get hockeyed away from home, and then suddenly they come back here [to Argentina] and there's a whole different mindset."   

The coach said, however, that the difficulties his team face in the upcoming match will provide each player an opportunity to prove his resilience and skill.

"One of the things that you want to find out is how do players cope in a tough environment," said Schmidt.

"We just really want to see how [the players] manage the situation."

Especially for the younger players – including Ulster's Robbie Diack who will make his debut in the match – the Test will represent a chance for emerging talent to show what they can do for the national team.

Schmidt said: "It's a great opportunity, and it's a real responsibility because if that opportunity [to play] is afforded to you, then I think you've got to reciprocate with the best performance you can put together."

Schmidt said that while selecting the squad for the Argentina Test was "difficult in some ways," it was "actually relatively easy in other ways."

A number of players were fatigued coming out of the Pro12 final, and there was a group of younger players that Schmidt and his team want to learn more of going forward, according to the coach.

Schmidt said: "To be able to adapt and endure a fairly tough Test match, a very tough environment, it's going to give us a bit more information about how these guys are going to cope in the future."

Ireland: 15 Felix Jones; 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Simon Zebo; 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Jack McGrath, 2 Rory Best, 3 Mike Ross; 4 Iain Henderson, 5 Paul O’Connell; 6 Robbie Diack, 7 Chris Henry, 8 Jordi Murphy.

Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.

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