Inspirational Argentinian captain Pablo Matera has gone from the penthouse to the doghouse, after an unsavoury incident in their Tri Nations draw with Australia.
A hero of the Pumas’ historic win over the All Blacks last week, the powerful flanker has been widely criticised - especially by Australian media - for pulling the hair of Wallabies hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa during the 15-all deadlock at Newcastle.
Pumas niggle is not new and they used the tactic to perfect effect against New Zealand.
"This sort of stuff is what you need to control when you’re playing against Argentina, because if there is a bit of push and shove, you need to keep a cool head too," remarked former Wallabies captain George Gregan at half-time of their most recent outing.
Moments after the break, those words proved prophetic, when Paenga-Amosa tackled Bautista Delguy after the whistle had been blown.
Argentina didn’t take too kindly to the late hit, with Matera pulling on the hooker’s hair and dragging him to the turf.
Paenga-Amosa got back to his feet and seemed to have his hair pulled again by flanker Marcos Kremer, as the two sides converged.
"I think there was a lot of slapping and not necessary fighting," Matera says. "We don't want to play that type of game.
“We had a similar situation in our previous match. We trust in our defence and system, we don't need anything like that."
When asked after about the incident Australian coach Dave Rennie and captain David Hooper played down the incident preferring the judiciary to deal with the incident.
"I'll leave that to the refs, TMO and assistant referees to sort out," Rennie says.
"Na, first I've heard of it," Hooper denies.
The first signs of a boilover occurred when Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou clashed with Argentinian Nicolas Sanchez, after the latter sparked a mini scuffle with a push to the face.
When the whistle was blown for a mistake, Tupou picked up a loose ball and the Pumas half swatted it out of his hands, leading to a few push and shove between the two players.
Sanchez gave the prop an open palm to the chin that caused him to retaliate and Aussie loose forward Harry Wilson shoved Sanchez to the ground.
Fox Sports commentators were more focused on what Sanchez was thinking, taking on the much bigger Tupou.
"It’s like someone stole his Big Mac," Wallabies legend Tim Horan said of Tupou.
"I’m questioning Sanchez’s sanity or IQ - or both," teased former Aussie captain Phil Kearns.
"Why would you take on Taniela Tupou? You’re a little No.10!"
After the match, Matera melted hearts, when he gave his playing jersey away to a young fan, but that goodwill could be undone by his in-match actions.
The skipper may end up in front of the SANZAAR judiciary, with his place in Argentina’s return match against New Zealand next Saturday at risk.
Join us next Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Tri Nations test from 9:45pm.