The first fall-out from the autumn international series descended on the far west of Britain yesterday as Gareth Jenkins, the Llanelli coach, aimed a verbal volley at Graham Henry's Welsh management team over the delicate issue of a knee condition affecting the less than delicate Scott Quinnell. The Lions No 8 and Scarlets captain will miss his club's Celtic League quarter-final with Munster in Limerick tomorrow evening – the visitors would have been serious outsiders even with Quinnell on board – and Jenkins believes his prize asset has been mishandled at Test level.
"Scott's injury is not particularly debilitating, and if it is managed correctly, he will get through the next three or four seasons," the coach said. "We at Llanelli have respected the problem. In terms of the training environment with Wales, that respect has not been forthcoming."
Quinnell aggravated the injury during Tests against Argentina, Tonga and Australia, and will be missing for at least a fortnight. The international outside-half Stephen Jones will lead Llanelli at Thomond Park.
On the opposite side of the Severn, the English Premiership community are relishing the prospect of Sunday's table-topping contest between London Irish and Leicester at the Madejski Stadium. The Exiles, sitting pretty in second place after an unexpectedly confident start to the campaign, have switched their front row combination on rota – Neal Hatley, Richard Kirke and Rob Hardwick will start against the Tigers – and made one enforced change in the centre, where Geoff Appleford replaces the incapacitated Rob Hoadley.
In many ways, however, the most significant match of the weekend takes place as far from the outskirts of Reading as it is possible to imagine – in Buenos Aires. Argentina take on New Zealand tomorrow in a game that has caught the imagination of the locals, thanks to the Pumas' recent Test wins in Cardiff and Edinburgh, and with the South Amercians running hot from Ignacio Corleto at full-back to Gonzalo Longo at No 8, the possibility of a first-ever victory over the All Blacks is the talk of the town.
Not surprisingly, the Pumas coach, Marcelo Loffredi, is damping down expectations. "The All Blacks are a team you have to be afraid of," he said yesterday. "New Zealand are the only side in the world that we could never expect to beat. But despite our fear, we will try to play the game at our own pace and rhythm and attempt to pressurise their less experienced players."
One New Zealander who will find himself under a whole heap of pressure fairly soon is the former Test coach, Wayne Smith. He flies to the East Midlands tomorrow to take charge of Northampton, who have been in free-fall for most of the season. "Wayne has a strong commitment to New Zealand rugby and this overseas stint will give him a new perspective on coaching, which can only be good for us," David Rutherford, the chief executive of the NZRFU, said.Reuse content