From Alex Bywater in Sante Fe
Cory Hill is king of the castle after two Test wins out of two on tour, but he expects to have to pull the drawbridge up when it gets “nice and hostile” against Argentina on Saturday night.
The Wales captain is expecting hostility – and lots of it – at the Estadio Brigadier Lopez in Sante Fe, which has a moat running around the pitch perimeter.
But that won’t bother Hill and his teammates who are determined to end their tour on a high with their first series victory in South America for 19 years.
“It’s an old school football stadium and it’s going to be nice and hostile,” said Hill of the Estadio Brigadier Lopez, which also has barbed wire to keep anyone off the playing surface, as well as the water hazard.
“It’s a great venue for us to play in. Three wins from three would turn this from a good tour into a great tour, but having a moat around the pitch is new to all of us!
“The boys are still loving the experience of playing in Argentina. The last time we won here Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins were the stars. They’re our coaches now, so it was a long time ago!
“I’m sure they’ll give me stick for saying that, but as a team I think we’ve got another five or 10 per cent to give which is hugely exciting.”
Hill hopes he can be the man to lead his country to a first series win in Argentina since 1999 when the two sides meet in Saturday second Test.
Warren Gatland’s side are 1-0 up in the two-match series and know victory would complete an unbeaten summer tour.
After downing South Africa 22-20 in Washington, Wales’ young players have impressed in the land of the Pumas and are now only 80 minutes away from a clean sweep.
Hill skippers Wales for the second successive game and added: “We have had another very good training week in Buenos Aires and we are ready to go for this game.
“Argentina are going to be coming for us, but we are ready for that challenge and it’s the last game of the season for us so the boys are buzzing to get out there.
“We know we have six to eight weeks off after this so it’s a case of one last effort and I’m sure the boys will put the hard yards in. A first series win here since 1999 is all the motivation we need.”
Wales have made five changes to their team, with Gatland opting for dual openside flankers in James Davies – man of the match in the first Test – and Ellis Jenkins.
Owen Watkin replaces the injured Hadleigh Parkes at centre, while there are also first starts of the tour for scrum-half Aled Davies and tighthead prop Tomas Francis.
Rhys Patchell has edged out Gareth Anscombe for the fly-half jersey with Hill alongside the promising young Adam Beard at lock.
Gatland has stoked the fire ahead of the second Test by claiming Argentina’s players should be “embarrassed” by their performance in the first match of the two-game series.
“If you were in that group of players, you’d probably be reasonably embarrassed about the fact the expectation was they were going to win quite comfortably and they were beaten by a group of young men and boys, who embarrassed them,” Gatland said.
As for his decision to pick two opensides, Gatland added: “It was pretty hard to leave either of them out, given that they’ve produced man-of-the-match performances in their first two games,” Gatland said.
It echoes Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric operating together, or pairings of Davies and Tipuric and then Josh Navidi and Tipuric at the end of the Six Nations this year.
“It’s something that we’ve done in the past,” Gatland said. “To be able to play two sevens, you’ve got to have your tight five performing well and we’re pretty happy with them.
“The great position that we’re in is that we’re going to have some really tough decisions to make. We were talking when we were doing selection about trying to narrow the loose forwards down to five [for the World Cup] if everyone is fit and playing well. That’s just going to be a nightmare.”
Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade has responded to the 23-10 defeat in San Juan by making just the one chance, Martin Landajo replacing Gonzalo Bertranou at scrum-half.
“We decided to select Martin and give the same team the chance again because none of them was happy with what happened last Saturday. We want a rematch,” Hourcade said.
“We had a very bad game last week and we really want to reverse it. We are going to see a team with a lot of attitude and a lot of fire with desire to change the image we left in San Juan.
“The key is to change our attitude. We have to win the point of contact and put into operation the game plan we did not manage to do last week.”
Wales: Amos; Adams, S Williams, Watkin, North; Patchell, A Davies; R Evans, Elias, Francis, Beard, Hill (capt), Jenkins, J Davies, Moriarty
Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lewis, B Davies, Turnbull, T Williams, Anscombe, Prydie
Argentina: Boffelli; Delguy, Orlando, De la Fuente, Moyano; Sanchez, Landajo; Garcia Botta, Creevey (capt), Chaparro, Petti, Lavanini, Matera, Kremer, Desio
Replacements: Montoya, Diaz, Medrano, Alemanno, Lezana, Bertranou, Iglesias, Cancelliere
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
TV: Channel 4