Alun Wyn Jones believes Wales will have to be wary of a “battle-hardened” Argentina when the two sides meet at the Millennium Stadium on November 10.
Wales take on Argentina before further Tests against Samoa, New Zealand and Australia which form part of the 2012 Dove Men Series. But, before Wales turn their attention to the All Blacks and the Wallabies, Jones believes Rob Howley’s side face a tough clash with the Pumas.
“Going into the autumn they’ll (Argentina) be battle-hardened and a lot of their boys will have had game time,” said the Ospreys captain.
“We’ll definitely need to keep on our guard, when you come up against these teams you have to front up and it shows where you’re at as a player.”
The Pumas’ recent performances in the Rugby Championship have served as a timely reminder of the ability within their squad and, although they are yet to register a win, they have run both South Africa and Australia very close.
Santiago Phelan’s side were only denied a famous win over South Africa in Mendoza by François Steyn’s late try whilst they also led Australia 19-6 in their match on the Gold Coast.
And Jones believes the Pumas will be a stern test for Wales after their experience of taking on the southern hemisphere giants this summer.
“When Warren Gatland first took over Wales he had a mantra to play against the top three sides in the world, namely New Zealand, South Africa and Australia,” he said.
“So as a nation we should be a little envious of Argentina now, seeing them in the Rugby Championship and playing against the best sides in the world.
“They’re only going to benefit from it and as I say, look at their performance against South Africa. They were very close to taking a scalp there and as we’ve improved in our performances, so have Argentina.”
The 66-cap second-row has fond memories of taking on the Pumas after making his Welsh debut on the 2006 tour of Argentina, as well as scoring two of his seven tries for Wales against the South Americans. He knows Wales will face a tough time, especially up front, when the two teams meet in early November.
“Argentina have got a history of having a strong forward pack and a bit of class behind with the likes of Hernandez,” added Jones.
“They’ve had a bit of a dent in their forward pack of late with the retirement of some key forwards but they’ve showed in patches in the Rugby Championship what they can achieve and obviously playing consistently in that competition is only going to benefit them as a team.”
With another tough autumn schedule ahead of them, Wales will be looking to start their campaign with a win ahead of their clashes with Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. And Jones feels in good form as he looks to help Wales claim an elusive southern hemisphere scalp.
“Personally I’m pretty happy,” he added.
“I’ve featured in every game since the start of the season, which I wasn’t able to do last year because of the World Cup and when I got back from New Zealand I was injured. Touch wood I’m going OK at the moment.”
WALES FIXTURES STILL ON SALE
10 November 2012, 1430hrs, Millennium Stadium - WALES v ARGENTINA Adults £30 U16 £10
16 November 2012, 1930hrs, Millennium Stadium - WALES v SAMOA Adults £25 U16 £10
1 December 2012 1430 hrs, Millennium Stadium - WALES v AUSTRALIA From £60
Tickets online: www.wru.co.uk Tel: 0844 2 777 888