The Wallabies are bracing themselves for a wounded Pumas side rocked by the suspension of three players, including captain Pablo Matera, for racist comments.
The Wallabies are wary of a Pumas backlash following the suspension of three Argentina players, including disgraced captain Pablo Matera, for posting racist remarks on social media.
The Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) said on Tuesday that Matera, who has also been stripped of the captaincy, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino had been banned for racist comments made between 2011 and 2013.
“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas squad on social networks,” the UAR said in a statement.
“Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 … the Argentine Rugby Union condemns any expression of hatred, and we consider it unacceptable that those who express them represent our country.”
Via Instagram, Matera apologised and said he was “very ashamed”.
“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said nine years ago,” Matera said.
“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”
News of the suspensions caught the Wallabies off guard ahead of their Tri-Nations clash against the Pumas at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
However, prop Allan Alaalatoa tipped the Pumas to react strongly under adversity.
“That’s the first time we’ve heard about it but just thinking about it now, I’m sure those boys will come out and try to do … their country proud this weekend,” Alaalatoa said.
“Pablo being their captain is going to be a huge loss for them, (but) I’m sure all three of those boys will still play a vital role in their preparations.
“They’ll use that as more of a motivation. Thinking from our perspective, that’s probably the way we’d go about it … use that as motivation.”
Having blown their chance to win the Tri-Nations trophy, the Wallabies are playing only for pride on Saturday night in their final match of the year.
“Every time you get the opportunity to wear the Wallabies jersey, it’s always an honour,” Alaalatoa said.
“We’ve been playing well so far, but we just haven’t been able to get the result.
“That’s our driving force heading into the weekend, making sure that we prepare really well, and making sure we put in a performance that we’re proud of, that our country’s proud of and that are family and friends are proud of.
“To finish on a high is huge for us and to go off to a break off the back of a good result.”