Rugby Union: Quinnell withdraws charity at home

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The Independent Online
ROB HOWLEY and the rest of his Wales team will spend this morning doing their bit for charity. The faith and hope will come tomorrow when they confront Argentina for the first of four tests against the Pumas in less than 11 months.

After the clash at Stradey Park, Llanelli, tomorrow the masochistic Welsh are scheduled to play two tests in Buenos Aires in June next year. And the Argies are first up for Wales when the 1999 Rugby World Cup gets under way.

Scott Quinnell is under no illusions as to what Wales must do, nor has he any doubts as to the weight of expectation that the Welsh nation will heap upon the team after last week's heroic stuff against South Africa. "There is always a danger of the Welsh public expecting too much," said Quinnell, who earlier this week won his appeal against a ban imposed by the Rugby Football Union for a late tackle on England captain Lawrence Dallaglio, enabling him to line up in the red shirt on his home ground.

"The Argentina side is a very dangerous animal coming off the back of two defeats. They have always had a good pack. We will have to step up our game from last week's against South Africa and get into their faces. This is a very different challenge from the Springboks. The Argentinians scrummage well and their reserves were impressive against Wales A."

And Quinnell admitted it will be nice to swap Wembley, their recent home, for Wales. He said:"It will be quite emotional for me. It will be the first time my brother Craig and I have played together at Llanelli, a club where our father [Derek] and uncle [Barry John] played."

At least the Quinnell brothers are familiar with the Argentina scrum- half Agustin Pichot, who is at Richmond, the club Quinnell left eight days ago to rejoin the Scarlets. "Pichot is very chopsy [talkative]," explained Quinnell, who will win his 20th cap. "If Craig and I can catch him we will have to remind him who we are."

Wales coach Graham Henry, a New Zealander with a dry sense of humour, knows his charges are in for a hard time. "The Argentinians are a very efficient side, but there is not a great deal of variety to their game plan. However they do have probably the biggest pack in world rugby and they embarrassed a lot of sides in the last World Cup."