All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg says he's ready for an aerial bombardment from Argentina's first-five Juan Martin Hernandez tomorrow night.
Hernandez is one the Pumas' few world class players, but his style is built around a strong kicking game rather than attacking the line or creating openings for the backs outside him.
It is likely that Hernandez will put plenty of bombs up at what could be a wet and windy night at the Cake Tin, then look to turn the ball over with their powerful forwards and attack from there.
So the pressure will be on Dagg in particular to take the kicks well and either launch an attack or kick the ball back deep into Argentina's half.
"They're a skillful side and they love to kick, so I've got to expect those high balls and to keep working hard back there to nullify them," Dagg said.
It may not be a conventional head to head, but the battle between Hernandez and Dagg could be one of the more intriguing contests in the tests.
"It's just trying to paint that picture and working hard to get into positions so I'm telling him I'm there," he said.
"But with a kicker like him, you can think it's coming to one place and it goes somewhere else, so it's about working hard and thinking one step ahead of him.
"Also it's about being real confident back there."
The Puma's coaching advisor Graham Henry will be well aware that Julian Savea has had problems under the high ball.
No doubt there will be a few high kicks going his way early on and after a disappointing test against Ireland in Christchurch in June he'll be wanting to start well to regain confidence.
Dagg though, believes the Hurricanes winger will be able to cope with that the Pumas send his way.
"I have got faith in him that he'll come out and show his home crowd and his family that he's got the goods," Dagg said.
"I know that he's got the goods and he is a quality player.
"Everyone had a shocker in that second game [against Ireland] and we've just got to wipe that.
"He gets another opportunity this weekend and I just can't wait to see the bus running."
There should be no such confidence issues with Dagg tomorrow night. He was arguably the man of the match in the two recent tests against the Wallabies.
It is pleasing to see him play well, but after an average Super Rugby campaign for the Crusaders he is in danger of being labelled a player who only brings out the goods when he's wearing a black jersey.
"I don't want to be like that, when I go back to the Crusaders I want to take my best back there," he said.
"It is trying to have that consistency, I am enjoying my rugby at the moment and being in this environment.
"It makes your job so much easier when you're around players that are the best in the country and the best in the world, so I've got to take that back to the Crusaders."
Meanwhile, Dagg says there is no doubt at all that Hawke's Bay are going to take Ranfurly Shield away from Taranaki tonight.
"They're definitely going to win it," said, who has played 43 games for the Magpies.
"They should be $1.10 favourites. You've got Hika Elliot there, who will dot down the first try and probably do all of the clearing kicks too.
"It would be awesome if they won, I'd probably go there on Sunday and join them in their celebrations."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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