Blair has revenge in mind against Pumas

British & Irish Lions scrum half contender Mike Blair is hoping to reach 50 caps for Scotland this month by helping his side to a first win in 18 years over the Pumas. [more]

Blair has revenge in mind against Pumas

British & Irish Lions scrum half contender Mike Blair is hoping to reach 50 caps for Scotland this month by helping his side to a first win in 18 years over the Pumas.

Argentina have won the last six Tests against the Scots, including last year’s quarter-final at the World Cup in Paris, and are currently ranked seven places higher than their visitors in the official IRB World Rankings in third.
The first Test is at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, in Rosario, on Saturday, with the second following at Velez Sarsfield, in Buenos Aires, on 14 June.
The 27-year-old Blair, who is captaining the Scottish squad and will win his 49th cap at the weekend, played in that 19-13 World Cup defeat and had a taste of rugby in Argentina a number of years ago when he was at school.
“I toured with Edinburgh Academy back in 1996. We played in two tournaments and against four local school teams, none of whom we beat,” recalled Blair, who will be vying with Eoin Reddan, Mike Phillips, Dwayne Peel and Harry Ellis for the 2009 Lions No 9 jersey in South Africa.
“Argentine rugby at that time was not that well known overseas, but the quality of the rugby was better than we’d expected. We know the Pumas will be very proud to be running out in front of their home support for the first time since their excellent showing at the Rugby World Cup and we understand it’s likely to be a capacity crowd in excess of 40,000 at Rosario.
“We know that crowds here are more like football crowds – they’re partisan and noisy and that can lead to an intimidating atmosphere. That mean’s it is important we start the game well."
Blair’s squad have trained this week at the GEBA in Rosario where a Scotland XV met the Pumas on their first tour to South America in 1969. The home side won the first game 20-3 before the Scots recovered to clinch the second uncapped game 6-3.
Two wins at Murrayfield apart – 12-11 in another uncapped game in 1973 and 49-3 in 1990 – the series has been dominated by the Pumas and Scottish coach Frank Hadden is well aware of the power of his side’s opponents over the next two weekend’s.
“We’re very respectful of the status of Argentine rugby. We’ve never beaten Argentina at Under-19 or Under-21 levels and it’s vital for us when we play a side of the quality of the Pumas that we do everything well,” said Hadden.
“We’re all aware about how tough it’s going to be, especially in the set-piece. The important thing for us is to start really positively because the Pumas are a top quality side.
“We need to try to capitalise on the fact they haven’t played for such a long time. But we’re aware about how difficult it’s going to be.
“We’ll be going out full of confidence because, although we know we need to win the game, we believe that we can win the game.”

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