There's going to be awful lot of confused people at the Aviva when the teams walk out later today.

What will take many by surprise is that there will be no sign of the All Blacks, anywhere. That's next week, they'll be told.

For a week building up to the first home Test of the November Series, the opposition, Argentina by the way, have almost been entirely absent from the narrative. 

There has been relatively little talk from the rugby media and the public about Los Pumas, and that's dangerous talk.

You'd almost forget that it's 15 years since Ireland beat them when it really mattered.

Twice since then they've conjured up unlikely but massively deserved victories to end Irish World Cup hopes, in 2007 and 2015. And 1999. Enough said. 

But when the back-to-back world champions and the number one ranked team are due to visit it's only natural that they serve as the main course, and the likes of Italy, who Ireland beat 54-7 last week, and Argentina, the appetisers.

To be fair to Joe Schmidt and the Irish players they could have shut down all talk of New Zealand until next week but each to a man answered all questions politely when it would have been simpler just to say 'we're focusing on this week and next week will take care of itself'.

But because Steve Hansen and his merry men arrive the week after, this Pumas Test becomes a primer and Schmidt has selected as close to full strength as he can.

Rob Kearney and Garry Ringrose will come into the mix next week and Conor Murray hasn't been ruled out but it's a long shot after a prolonged layoff due to a neck injury.

Only Jordan Larmour, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale remain from the Chicago trip

What the XV who line out will face is an Argentina team, all of whom play their club rugby for Jaguares, coming off their best showing in the Rugby Championship since entering in 2012.

That includes a home win over South Africa, an away victory in Australia and a couple of close calls for the Aussies and New Zealand as well.

The game will be the first northern hemisphere test for new coach for Mario Ledesma, who as a player caused Ireland no end of hurt down the years.

And despite all the talk about New Zealand, Schmidt and the boys, when asked about the South Americans, are on point. They've done their homework, even if the majority are not interested in examining their work.

"Talk about class players," Schmidt told RTÉ Sport.

"One of them is [Nicolas] Sanchez. It’s probably no accident that he left the field just before half-time [in the loss to the Wallabies] and...they did seem to lose a bit of their shape and their organisation.

"Agustin Creevy is very good in the ruck.

Tomas Lavanini

"Lavanini is 2 metres tall, he's 130 kilos, he's at the peak of his powers.

"He is a world-class second row. And alongside Alemmano, he is also a big, strong man, up around 117kgs.

"It’s not just [their] mentality, just look at the skill of some of their players, the footspeed of some of their players, [Boffelli, Delguy for example]."

When Ireland lost to Argentina in the 2015 World Cup there was a sense that the Six Nations champs of 2014 and 2015 had been targeted.

While Ireland focused on the France game in the pool, Argentina had the cross hairs on Ireland.

Same thing happened in 1999. All set up for a home quarter-final against France, the Argies had another idea.

Ireland are in better shape than in any of those years and are on the verge of a record-breaking tenth home win a row, a run that includes last November's 28-19 win over the Pumas. 


Argentina's famed scrum is a mere shadow of what it was and since their win over Ireland in 2015, have lost eight of nine games in Europe.

The Six Nations champs have proven over and over again in the last year that getting the job done is now part of their mentality.

Yes, new captain Pablo Matera, Sanchez and Boffelli all pose threats but the biggest danger is that the scent of the All Blacks comes wafting through the stadium a week early.

It's unthinkable that Schmidt would allow that to happen but a pumped up Pumas would pounce on any hesitancy in a second.

"We had a very good championship," said flanker Guido Petti.

"The team is very comfortable, we have very clear ideas and we know what we are playing. It will be a very good match and much better than before."

As appetisers go this is probably exactly what Ireland need. 

Follow Ireland v Argentina via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 this Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm).