There is only one place to start with this preview and that is with the amazing story behind Christian Leali’ifano’s recovery from leukaemia to take up his starting place in the Wallabies team for the first time since 2016.
The Brumbies standoff is one of five changes that Michael Cheika has made to the team that were defeated last weekend by South Africa.
The Wallaby Head Coach has also made five changes to his bench and James O’Connor is another phoenix that has risen from the flames of this Championship to get his first taste of Test Rugby since 2013.
Argentina will be kicking themselves after last weekend’s narrow defeat to New Zealand in Buenos Aires. But for a botched and messy final rolling maul in the last play of the match, we may have spent the last week talking about their first ever victory over the World’s number one test nation.
Mario Ledesma has also made five changes to his team with the human wrecking ball, Facundo Isa, coming in at Number 8 alongside Tomas Lezana and Pablo Matera in the back row.
This Australian team are in desperate need of a win and a convincing one at that.
Apart from the odd glimpse of attacking intent last weekend in Johannesburg, their performance, for the best part was insipid and toothless.
Michael Cheika has wielded the axe on a few of those players but the temptation to make more changes must have been real.
Scott Sio coming in for the injured James Slipper is the only enforced change due to injury but the four changes in the back line are the most important.
Will Genia and Leali’ifano will be feeling the pressure of igniting a disjointed backline that Bernard Foley failed to do last weekend. Foley drops out of the 23 completely as does Tom Banks and Dane Haylett-Petty.
Kurtley Beale replaces Banks at Full Back whilst Marika Koroibete will be welcomed back on to the wing after the birth of his second son affected his chances of selection against South Africa.
This is a much more creative looking backline for the men in gold but also has sheer power ready to be unleashed in the midfield.
Mario Ladesma has made some striking changes to his team to face Australia but what that highlights is the strength in depth that he has at his disposal throughout the squad.
Former captain, Agustin Creevy, will miss the trip to Brisbane through injury, allowing Julian Montoya to take the starting berth for Los Pumas at hooker this weekend.
Two changes in the back row see Facundo Isa and Tomas Lezana replace Javier Ortega Desio and Marcos Kremer respectively.
In the midfield, Matias Moroni steps off his wing and into outside centre as the electric Santiago Cordero steps into the shirt he vacates.
Joaquin Tuculet will also be given his chance to stake a claim to a starting World Cup shirt when he starts at Full Back ahead of Emiliano Boffelli.
Argentina were victorious on the Gold Coast last season in a hard-fought battle of attrition and they can expect that again on the East Coast this weekend.
There is certainly more pressure on Australia coming into this match but it would be disrespectful to both teams to say that the pressure on the travelling Pumas has not also been heightened due their own success and the further success of the Jaguares in Super Rugby.
A loss for either team would be a seriously damaging blow with the World Cup around the corner.
Questions over Michael Cheika’s leadership of this squad are being bandied around again but at least he has made some positive changes for this match in his backline.
Genia and Leali’ifano have the potential to form an exciting partnership that, if able to release Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani to cause some damage, could well be the starting halfback pairing for a few years to come.
Kurtley Beale is the key man for the Wallabies though as he will come in at first receiver regularly and also look to hit gaps near the breakdown as he did last week. It’s crucial that Cheika allows Beale to settle into one position instead of using him as luxurious utility player.
Mario Ladesma has clearly targeted the Wallaby back row as an area of weakness and possible exploitation for the Argentinians. Isa and Lezana are quick around the field and Lezana especially will compete with Michael Hooper for the ball at every opportunity around the breakdown. That will be a fascinating battle but Hooper also needs to worry about Isa when he is carrying the ball in hand. At just 25, Isa has already been to one World Cup but his time in Toulon has seen him grow into a player that wins the majority of collisions and offload to willing runners.
The backline of Argentina will always cause the opposition trouble and this match will be far more open than last week against the All Blacks. Cordero, Tuculet and Ramiro Moyano are never far from the action and sniffing around the try line.
Although this game is being played in Australia, I think that Argentina are still the favourites and they have larger slices of class and more settled combinations across the park than their opponents.
They’ll win the breakdown and set piece against a weak Australian pack and the backline will take care of the scoreboard.
ARGENTINA BY 12