Aaron Smith: All Blacks must take Argentina out of their comfort zone

Dylan Coetzee
All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith looks on over a scrum during a Test match.

All Blacks veteran Aaron Smith says his side will be looking to avoid playing into Argentina’s hands as they hope to bounce back from last week’s defeat.

Michael Cheika’s Los Pumas side claimed their first ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand last weekend in what was a spectacular performance.

Defensive masterclass

Argentina’s game was built off a rock solid defence that saw flanker Marcos Kremer notch up a match high 26 tackles. Coupled with their committed effort without the ball was the ability to put the All Blacks under pressure by attacking the breakdown.

Smith wants his side to avoid playing into the breakdown tactic and look to exploit space in the wide channels and in behind the defensive line.

“If you attack with the ball for long periods of time, you’re giving them opportunities and they’re taking them,” Smith told the All Blacks’ website.

“They used their ‘d’ [defence] for that. We played into their hands in that sense, but there’s plenty of opportunities, plenty of space to turn them around, but also using the ball through wider channels.”

Smith noted that the Argentine’s do not want to play with ball in hand and the scrum-half says it is important to force the in-form side to adopt the kind of game that does not suit them.

“When they defend with 13 in the front line, and they’ve got two guys in the bunkers, there’s space somewhere and, as we saw from Argentina, they didn’t go past four or five phases at all,” he said. “They don’t want the ball, and we need to be able to turn them round and make them play the game they don’t want to.”

Putting the pieces together

The 33-year-old believes all the components are there for the All Blacks to bring their game back to the level they would like, it is just a matter of putting all the pieces together.

“It’s in there,” he added. “So, that balance of the forwards giving us the ball, the backs using it right, and we get our breakdown right, our ‘d’ is in a really good spot, teams aren’t scoring many tries against us through striking at us, so it’s all there. It’s just around putting it together, and we’re working bloody hard.

All Blacks fly-half Richie Mo’unga says there’s been a big emphasis on accuracy this week and newly-appointed assistant coach Joe Schmidt has already added to the New Zealand set-up.

“Accuracy is a big one for us this week. We didn’t have a lot of that,” Mo’unga said.

“He’s (Schmidt) added a lot to this group and I look forward to working with him more.”

READ MORE: Rugby Championship preview: Ian Foster to remain in situ as All Blacks edge past Argentina