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Friday September 6, 2013 MYT 4:52:01 PM
Friday September 6, 2013 MYT 4:52:55 PM
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (L) of Argentina's Los Pumas plays with a ball next to his teammate Rodrigo Roncero during a practice session ahead of the Rugby Championship in Buenos Aires July 19, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian
(Reuters) - Argentina need to target an almost perfect performance if they are to register a first win over New Zealand when the sides clash in the Rugby Championship in Hamilton on Saturday, according to captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
The loose forward, who is returning to action after recovering from a calf injury, was not being overly ambitious in his expectations of a side who have never beaten the All Blacks in 16 previous attempts.
Their best result was a 21-21 draw in 1985, though they had arguably their best chance to record a victory before number eight Scott Robertson scored a last-gasp converted try that gave the All Blacks a 24-20 victory in 2001.
Current Pumas coach Santiago Phelan played in that game in Buenos Aires and Lobbe is well aware that there is almost no room for error if Argentina want to beat a side he believes are among the best to have played the game.
"It is going to be a great challenge, the best challenge ever," Lobbe told reporters In Hamilton on Friday.
"We know it is a great challenge, but the way to deal with that is to embrace it and give it all.
"We need to be clever, clinical and we need to be precise in every aspect because we are playing against one of the best teams.
"We have a lot of respect for this challenge but we have a lot of confidence about what we are trying to achieve so we are going to go and give it all. That's the way to play."
The Pumas joined the southern hemisphere competition last year and impressed with their combative nature and were unlucky not to have recorded a maiden win in their debut season, with two narrow losses to Australia and a draw with South Africa.
They were hammered 73-13 in their first match against the Springboks this year but rebounded to lead for much of the return game in Mendoza before the South Africans sneaked to a 22-17 win.
Lobbe missed both of those games due to his calf injury and he, like coach Phelan, said it was imperative that his side kept improving throughout the competition as that was something the world champion All Blacks strove to do.
"Of course when you start playing against these sorts of guys, for us it is great because we are definitely going to start going up if we use the experience wisely and I think we are doing that," Lobbe added.
"You get used to playing them definitely, but when you see them play the other games you can never under-estimate or take the aura away, because they just keep improving.
"But you can never take their aura away, they are an amazing team (and)... they are becoming better every year."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Napier, New Zealand; Editing by John O'Brien)
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