Reuters

Targets on backs of Foley and Cooper? Pumas promise to target Australia's 'Fooper' combination

Pumas to target Australia's 'Fooper' combination
By Reuters

16/09/2016 at 08:42

Upsetting the Wallabies' new playmaking axis of Bernard Foley and Quade Cooper will be important for Argentina's hopes of felling the hosts in Perth on Saturday, according to winger Lucas Amorosino.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named Cooper at flyhalf and Foley at inside centre for a third successive match in the Rugby Championship, with the pair steering the side in defeat away to New Zealand and victory over South Africa in Brisbane last weekend.

Although ineffective against the All Blacks in Wellington, the duo had more influence against the Springboks, with regular number 10 Foley scoring a try and New Zealand-born Cooper also creating headaches with his kicking game.

The jury remains out on the combination, at least for some Australian rugby pundits, but Amorosino was convinced of its importance to the hosts' running game.

"We have to put the pressure on Quade Cooper and Foley," Amorosino told local media in Perth on Friday. "They play with really good skill.

"The idea is to put pressure on those players so they don't feel comfortable, and after that we have an opportunity to have the ball as much as possible."

Cheika has also kept faith in the highly scrutinised 'Pooper' combination, his use of dual openside flankers Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the back row rather than a specialist number eight.

The gambit proved a masterstroke during last year's run to the World Cup final but was written off as a force by local media after the Wallabies opened the Rugby Championship with two stinging defeats to New Zealand.

Cheika settled his bench on Friday, opting for a 6-2 split of forwards and backs, clearly mindful of the need for more muscle up front against the beefy Argentina pack at Perth Oval.

Brumbies winger Henry Speight drops out of the match-day 23, meaning potential test debuts for New South Wales Waratahs prop Tom Robertson and Melbourne Rebels backrower Lopeti Timani.

The sides will play their first match since the World Cup semi-final, which Australia won 29-15, fired by a hat-trick of tries to utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper and a rock-solid defence.

"It was a strange match," Amorosino said. "After conceding those early tries, I think we played a better match.

"Australia had a really good defence that day.

"We broke the line 12 or 13 times, and Australia recovered. And we went inside the 22 six times without scoring points."

Argentina, who lost 57-22 to the All Blacks away last week, are seeking their first Rugby Championship win on Australian soil.

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