Rugby
PA Sport 9d

Pumas coach: Argentina lack mental strength to beat world's best

Rugby

Argentina's players have consulted psychologists to improve their mental toughness ahead of Saturday's meeting with England at Twickenham.

The Pumas have endured a wretched 2017, winning just one match -- at home to Georgia -- and losing all six games in the recent Rugby Championship against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

They were also beaten twice by an under-strength England team on home soil in June. Yet Argentina have led in several of those matches, including at half-time in New Zealand and in the first Test against England.

And head coach Daniel Hourcade, who has restored Juan Martin Hernandez to fly-half for the game, admitted: "We lost the opportunity to win against England because we dominated the first game. The second game was more equal, but we had opportunity to win, but we were unable to take the opportunity.

"It's probably mental and that's what we have to work on, so we don't have those ups and downs during the games. Some of the players have consulted [people] in terms of mentality, some individually with psychologists and some as a group with coaches."

Argentina's habit of fading badly in the last 20 minutes raises questions about their fitness But assistant coach Pablo Bouza also believes the problems lie between the ears, rather than in the legs.

"Where we have to improve is to play 80 minutes at the same level," he said. "In the Championship we played six matches and in three we won the first half against very good teams. It's not about fitness, it's about making errors so many times in areas we should not make them.

"That's what we are talking about, the mental toughness to do it for 80 minutes. It's decision making. Sometimes the mistake is because of a person on the other team, but sometimes, no, it's our mistake.

"Since the Championship we have been working to improve this. We know what to do, it's about what we do under pressure. Every time you play at Twickenham it's a big occasion for the players, but we are thinking about how we play, the decision making, the unforced errors and what it will take to win."

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