Preview: Ireland v Argentina

Grand Slam champions Ireland laid down a marker last weekend with a dominant display against Italy in Chicago and now prepare for the first of their November Tests in Dublin against Argentina.

Grand Slam champions Ireland laid down a marker last weekend with a dominant display against Italy in Chicago and now prepare for the first of their November Tests in Dublin against Argentina.

It is an indication of the depth at Joe Schmidt’s disposal that he has been able to make ten changes to the team that beat the Azzurri despite also having to deal with some injuries.

A week before a tantalising clash with the All Blacks, facing Argentina should provide an intriguing test for the Irish, with Los Pumas coming into the game off the back of a mixed Rugby Championship.

Victories over South Africa and Australia are certainly cause for optimism under new coach Mario Ledesma, who will know Schmidt well having played under him during his time at Clermont Auvergne.

It could have been even better for Argentina had they not let a 31-7 lead slip against Australia in their final game, and with the likes of Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano and newcomer Bautista Delguy, they provide a real threat in the back three.

However Ireland are not short of talent from deep themselves, with British & Irish Lion Keith Earls on one wing, 2018 Six Nations Player of the Championship Jacob Stockdale on the other and World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year nominee Jordan Larmour at full-back.

Add in the return of Johnny Sexton at fly-half, linking up with Kieran Marmion, who gets the nod at scrum-half in the absence of Conor Murray, and it is a dangerous Irish backline.

And when it comes to the Autumn Internationals, Schmidt has got a fantastic record, losing just three times since he took over back in 2013.

He will be keen to extend that record against Los Pumas side that last got the better of Ireland in 2015 when the teams met in the World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff.

Ireland v Argentina, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Saturday 10 November, 6.30pm GMT

Joe Schmidt (Ireland head coach): “The coaching group, we hummed and hawed a lot last night, we went backwards and forwards and then went, ‘righto, let’s sleep on it’ and then made some decisions this morning (Thursday).

“So that’s kind of the situation you want to be in, and in the end – guys played last week, we’ve tried to include guys who are desperately keen to put their hand up and train well on Tuesday.”

Pablo Matera (Argentina captain): “It caught me by surprise (being named captain). I captained the Jaguares this year and from that point I tried to make the most of being in position to learn everything I could from Agustín (Creevy) who is a player who passes on a lot and has heaps of experience.

“When Mario (Ledesma) told me his decision to make me captain, I started a back and forth with Agus and all I received from him was total support.”   Key Battle: Flankers   Joe Schmidt was hardly short of options when it came to his back row, but in the end he has gone with the experienced Lions trio of Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander. O’Brien makes his first Test appearance in a year, coincidentally since a fixture against Argentina, and his battle with new Pumas skipper Pablo Matera on the openside should be an interesting one.

Guido Petti wears the No.7 jersey for Argentina, but he will surely take on a lot of the blindside duties in his first match in the back row, having switched from lock. Los Pumas will not be short of lineout options, but how Petti copes in his new role could have a huge bearing on the outcome of the game.   Stat Watch:

– Ireland are looking for a tenth straight victory at the Aviva Stadium, which would be their longest-ever streak. They are currently level with the run achieved between 2014 and 2015

– When these two teams met last November Ireland ran out 28-19 victors, with Joe Schmidt naming the exact same pack as played that day

– Pablo Matera will captain Argentina for the first time, having taken on the role from Agustín Creevy, who has been the skipper since 2014

– Jordan Larmour, who starts at full-back for Ireland, made 245 metres with ball in hand last weekend, the second highest figure since that stat started being recorded   Ireland: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Kieran Marmion, 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best (captain), 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Sean O’Brien, 8. CJ Stander 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. Matías Orlando, 12. Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11. Ramiro Moyano, 10. Nicolás Sánchez, 9. Tomás Cubelli, 1. Santiago García Botta, 2. Agustín Creevy, 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Matías Alemanno, 5. Tomás Lavanini, 6. Pablo Matera (captain), 7. Guido Petti, 8. Javier Ortega Desio Replacements: 16. Julián Montoya, 17. Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18. Lucio Sordoni, 19. Rodrigo Bruni, 20. Tomás Lezana, 21. Gonzalo Bertranou, 22. Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23. Matías Moroni