Scarlets lock warns Wales to beware Pumas
NEW Scarlets signing Tomas Vallejos says Argentina will arrive in Wales next week determined to pick up a major European scalp.
The Pumas will take on the Six Nations champions at the Millennium Stadium on November 10 fresh from their debut campaign against the southern hemisphere superpowers in the Rugby Championship.
Santiago Phelan’s side failed to claim a victory against the SANZAR nations, but did draw with the Springboks on home soil and were agonisingly close to beating the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.
Second row Vallejos, a summer signing from Harlequins, arrived in Llanelli earlier this month after making just one appearance in the series — as a replacement in the 54-15 defeat to the All Blacks in La Plata.
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The 28-year-old hasn’t been named in Argentina’s 27-man squad for the Cardiff clash, but could be involved in the Tests against Ireland and France that follow in November.
And having only left the Argentinean camp a few weeks ago, Vallejos knows the side currently ranked eighth in the IRB rankings are desperate to make another statement on the world stage — starting against last season’s Grand Slam champions.
“The Rugby Championship has been massive for Argentinean rugby,” said Vallejos. “We now know we are playing at the highest level. We felt better after each game and it was very positive for everyone.
“The message from the coach this November is to show we have moved forward and to claim a big win.
“We are really looking forward to these games and Wales will be a big battle.
“As a team we are trying to play a bit more and not be just a scrum team, as we have been in the past. That is the challenge for the next couple of years, to become more of an attacking team.
“We are changing a lot of players, a lot of historic players have left, but there is a lot of new talent coming in who are very good.”
Vallejos made his first start at lock for the Scarlets in last weekend’s 29-28 Pro12 victory over Edinburgh.
But with Aaron Shingler, Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull currently among 12 players from the region in Poland with the Wales training squad, the 6ft 6in forward is set to slot into the back row for Saturday’s clash with basement side Zebre in Llanelli.
“I am a second row, but can play in the back row. We have three in the Wales squad, which leaves a massive space in the back row so maybe I could cover that,” he added.
“I am very happy at the Scarlets. Everyone has been really helpful from the coaches to all the guys. Everyone is asking me every day, ‘how are you settling down?’, ‘do you need anything?’, and the wives and girlfriends of the guys have been the same to my girlfriend as well. It makes a huge difference.”
Without a dozen players in Spala, the Scarlets are set to welcome back the likes of South African locks George Earle and Joe Snyman, centre Gareth Maule, hooker Kirby Myhill and wing Andy Fenby from injury for this weekend’s clash.
South African prop Jacobie Adriaanse is expected to arrive in Llanelli tomorrow, although backs coach Mark Jones admitted it is unlikely the tight-head will be involved against Zebre.
“We will try to integrate him as quickly as we can,” said Jones. “Things obviously can change in the week but I don’t think he will be involved on Saturday unless injuries occur.”