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International Rugby: Argentina v Wallabies 2nd Test preview

The Wallabies are back in action this weekend when they take on Argentina in the second Test and will be looking to wrap up a series win against the Pumas.

Australia returned to winning ways when they beat Argentina 41-26 in the opening Test last weekend, but they did not have it all their own way.

They were trailing 19-10 at half-time before they came roaring back after the break to wrap up a convincing win.

There was more bad news to come from the injury front as well with Quade Cooper facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles.

Dave Rennie’s side have had to cope with plenty of adversity and injury recently and their strength in depth will once again be put to the test against Argentina.

The Pumas will be determined to bounce back from the defeat in front of another passionate home crowd in San Juan and the Wallabies will be in for a battle.

So let’s take a closer look at the game as Rennie attempts to put together a side capable of getting the job done.

What: Argentina v Australia
Where: Estadio Bicentenario, San Juan, Argentina
When: 03:10 (AEST) Sunday 14th August 2022
How to watch: Stan Sport
Odds: Argentina 11/5, Australia 9/25

Huge Quade Cooper setback – who will replace him?

The Wallabies suffered a huge setback in the opening Test when Cooper was forced to leave the field early in the second.

It has since been revealed that Cooper has ruptured his Achilles and is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The loss of such an experienced and quality player like Cooper is big blow to the Wallabies and now all focus will be on making sure everything goes well with his recovery so he is ready for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Australia are priced at 12/1 to win it.

In the meantime, coach Dave Rennie has to work out how to replace him.

In the first Test it was Reece Hodge who came off the bench to replace Cooper and he did a great job in helping guide the Wallabies to an impressive win.

Hodge could be called on again but says he would be happy to take the utility role and hand the No.10 jersey on to someone else, with Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor battling for the role.

Hodge says either player has what it takes to fill the void left by Cooper’s injury and take on the responsibility of being play-maker.

Lolesio started at five-eighth during the recent series defeat against England and looks most likely to get the nod, but Rennie will weigh up his options.

"Quade's a very experienced player and he's an expert at getting the best out of people around him so we're not hiding the fact that it's a massive loss for us,” Hodge said ahead of the weekend. "But Noah steered us to a series win against France last year and was very solid in that England series as well.

"And then James has played 50-plus Tests and his form at the start of Super Rugby season for the Reds was outstanding; he was probably one of the best players in the competition early on so we've got two really good options heading into the game this weekend."

The Wallabies need to come out firing

The Wallabies took plenty of heart from the victory over the Pumas. Preparations for the game were far from perfect as a host of players were ruled out through injury.

Not only that skipper Michael Hooper withdrew from the squad 24 hours before the game to focus on his mental health. Then of course Cooper suffered a serious injury in the game.

So there were plenty of positives to take from the victory, in particular the spirit the players showed when coming together to get the win.

However there is still plenty to work on in the second Test. In particular making sure they start the game well. On too many occasions they start the game slowly and that was on show again last weekend.

The Pumas were soon 13-3 in front and then 19-10 at half-time. Australia did well to come fighting back to win, but they cannot keep starting slowly. They will be punished by better sides. Just like England did.

“I’m not sure (why we’re struggling early),” he said. “That’s the question we’re getting through at the moment,” scrum half Nic White said. “We’ll get another chance this weekend to address that.
“I guess it’s getting into the grind of things, getting some positive outcomes early in the game.

“Kind of flirting with having a crack but also understanding the game can’t necessarily be won right there and then in the first 5-10-15-20 minutes, but it can be lost.
“So we want to throw some shots, but we’ve got to make sure we’re not reckless and just giving up territory too easily.”

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