Rugby-Australia expect Argentina to come out firing after scandal - Hooper

04 Dec 2020 / 10:55 H.

    By Ian Ransom

    MELBOURNE, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Australia expect an under-pressure Argentina to come out breathing fire in the final Tri-Nations clash as the Pumas look to restore pride after a racism scandal, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said on Friday.

    Argentina were rocked this week by revelations captain Pablo Matera and two other senior players had posted racist comments on their social media accounts more than seven years ago.

    Coach Mario Ledesma has omitted the three from his matchday squad for Saturday's clash at Western Sydney stadium to shield them from more criticism after they were targeted by "a lot of hate".

    Hooper said the tough week could make Argentina more determined to finish on a high note and the Wallabies needed to be ready.

    "They're clearly training well against each other during the week. And they'll be certainly up for it after a week like that," Hooper told reporters.

    "They're a passionate bunch of guys and I'm sure they'll be up for the game."

    Both teams have a mathematical chance of wresting the title away from New Zealand, though Australia would need to win by 101 points and the Pumas by 93 at Western Sydney Stadium for that to happen.

    The weather will be a steamy 28 degrees Celsius with the chance of a thunderstorm, which could test both sides and particularly Argentina, who head into their fourth game in successive weeks.

    "They've had four tough games on the trot and even some trial matches before that," Hooper said.

    "I think the weather is going to throw a few spanners in the works there ... The team that navigates that well is going to do well on the park tomorrow."

    Australia squandered a nine-point lead in the 15-15 draw against the Pumas two weeks ago in Newcastle, and Hooper called for more discipline from his players to prevent Argentina sharp-shooter Nicolas Sanchez from hurting them with penalties.

    "We're looking to have a complete performance tomorrow," he said.

    "After tomorrow we'll know if we can give a better rating about where our season was at." (Editing by Peter Rutherford )

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