All Blacks v Argentina: Resisting niggle key to Tri Nations payback on Pumas

The All Blacks are embracing the heightened pressure on them before their most important clash of the year against Argentina on Saturday.

The side know that only comprehensive victory will keep their critics at bay and to achieve that, they must resist biting on the Pumas’ niggle.

After their historic defeat by the South Americans last week, the All Blacks are focussed solely on themselves this week, acknowledging the pressure on them may be greater, but it's not driving them.

“That loss makes things a bit hard, but with the All Blacks standard and how we do things, I think that outweighs whatever pressure there is outside of this environment,” says lock Patrick Tuipulotu. 

Victory may yet be enough to claim the Tri Nations trophy, but they can also go a long way to silencing the critics they've faced since their shock loss.

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock's response to that criticism starkly contrasts that of captain Sam Cane.

“I think that's great,” he says. “That's what makes New Zealand so passionate about rugby and sport in general, so it's cool everyone's got an opinion.”

Not only are the All Blacks expected to win, but win well to help ease the criticism on coach Ian Foster.

“It's on us to get a result and perform well, so that when he is in the firing line, it's good stuff from a good win,” he says.

 To do that, they'll need to find a way to negate the niggle.

The Pumas got under the All Blacks skin in Sydney and Foster wants his players to simply shrug it off, but Tuipulotu insists that’s not so simple.

“The hardest thing is to walk away, but sometimes, that's what you have to do,” he says. “In the heat of the moment, the heat of the battle, it gets very hard and very tense.”

Says Whitelock: “We're all excited to get out there and show the improvements we've made.”

Two weeks in quarantine will seem very long, if they can't.

Join us at 9:45pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Tri Nations clash