All the pre-November internationals hype has been looking ahead to that game between Ireland and New Zealand on November 17. But first, Ireland will need to get past a dangerous Argentina side before they attempt to topple the world champions. If they can achieve another convincing victory following their 54-7 massacring of Italy last weekend, then at least they will be going into the All Blacks clash with momentum.
Despite fielding a largely inexperienced side, Ireland were on song in that mauling of Italy and head coach Joe Schmidt will be delighted with the performances of a number of his young additions last weekend – Jordan Larmour in particular – who is retained for the Pumas clash.
It’s been an excellent year for the men in green as they began the year by claiming the Grand Slam followed by a 2-1 series victory away in Australia in the June internationals.
The Aviva Stadium has become something of a fortress for the Emerald Isle, having won 12 of their 13 previous fixtures there.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s year started under rocky circumstances with home defeats to Wales (twice) and Scotland in June, which led to Mario Ledesma taking over from Daniel Hourcade.
And Ledesma made an instant impact, guiding los Pumas to a memorable victory over the Springboks in Mendoza in only his second game in charge. His side went on to win two games in the Rugby Championship and should have won a third had they not let a commanding half-time lead slip to lose 45-34 against the Wallabies.
Argentina have lost six of the last seven Tests against the Irish. However, the one the Pumas did win was by far the most important one of them all; the 2015 World Cup quarter-final.
Players to watch:
For Ireland: Jordan Larmour has been in sensational form for province and country over the past 18 months, instrumental in Leinster’s PRO14 and Champions Cup double-winning 2017/2018 season. He comes into the game in red-hot form, having bagged a hat-trick in Ireland’s 54-7 thumping of Italy last weekend. Larmour has been nominated for World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year award.
For Argentina: The 6ft 3ins, 23-year-old Emiliano Boffelli offers versatility, able to play at wing and centre but is most adept at full-back where he uses that monster boot of his to full effect. He has scored 51 points in 20 appearances for the Pumas, dotting down in three of his last four matches. Known for his trademark long-range penalty, there’s few better than Boffelli in terms of long-distance goal-kicking.
Head-to-head: Nicolas Sanchez is Argentina’s unsung hero and has been their best player in the last 18 months. In fact such is his worth that when he is not in the side, they struggle, as was evident in the loss to Australia recently. Sanchez comes up against Johnny Sexton, who returns to a starting role after allowing Joey Carbery time in the spotlight. A typically mature performance is needed from Sexton if he is to dictate the tempo of the game and not allow Sanchez to control matters.
2017: Ireland won 28-19 in Dublin
2015: Argentina won 43-20 in Cardiff
2014: Ireland won 23-17 in Tucuman
2014: Ireland won 29-17 in Resistencia
2012: Ireland won 46-24 in Dublin
2010: Ireland won 29-9 in Dublin
2008: Ireland won 17-3 in Dublin
2007: Argentina won 30-17 in Paris
Prediction: The home side will be too strong for the Pumas. Ireland by 15.
Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Andrew Conway
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicholas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Rodrgo Bruni, 20 Thomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Moroni
Date: Saturday, November 10
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 18:30 GMT
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ludovic Cayre (France)
Television match official: David Grashoff (England)