DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland has been on edge all week. Moody, irritable, on short fuses. To the Irish, that's a good sign.
After five straight test defeats, they are beyond desperate to end their worst run in 14 years when they face Argentina at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
"Yeah, there is bite and there are people fighting," Ireland flanker Chris Henry said. "From teams I've been involved with, when you're this edgy and you're getting tetchy with your teammates, that's probably a good sign.
"It's boiling up. Losing to South Africa two weeks ago definitely was one of the hardest moments of my rugby career. Losing at home, it's hard to take and I didn't think it would hurt as much as it did."
Ireland could have ended its losing run against the Springboks but blew a 12-3 lead.
Coach Declan Kidney, not known to be adventurous, kept faith with that team by making only one change, bringing in winger Craig Gilroy for his Ulster colleague Andrew Trimble. The 21-year-old Gilroy was rewarded for a hat trick of tries in the 53-0 win over Fiji in a non-cap match in Limerick last weekend.
"Some lads are getting the opportunity at a young age and that's great, it's exactly what we want to see," Henry said. "We want to see younger guys getting a go and if they're ready, they're ready.
"Obviously it's a huge step up but when a younger player comes in and adds enthusiasm, it drives other players on."
Ireland needs all the inspiration it can muster. It has a winning record against Argentina, including their last two tests, but it's aware these aren't the Pumas of old.
"They've got that physicality and aggression, which I'm sure they'll come with, that passion they have ... but they're not a one-trick pony," Henry said.
"We know we've got to be on the money how we defend and how we approach them because they're not afraid to pass the ball and they've got some skillful players."
The Pumas made four changes from the side which lost to France 39-22 in Lille last Saturday.
Juan Martin Hernandez was restored at fullback having recovered from the knock he took in the tour-opening win over Wales, and coach Santiago Phelan plugged in prop Maximiliano Bustos and midfielder Santiago Fernandez, who were summoned from Montpellier only on Sunday.
Bustos will make his test debut in place of loosehead prop Juan Figallo, who was banned for three weeks for charging dangerously into a ruck. Fernandez was in for Gonzalo Tiesi in a much-changed backline.
Gonzalo Camacho will wear No. 14 instead of Horacio Agulla, who was concussed against France, and Marcelo Bosch was moved to outside center.
Saturday's loser will likely slip out of the top eight in the rankings and face a tough draw next month for the 2015 World Cup in England. The loser will drop into the third tier of seeds and likely be drawn with two major test teams in the same pool. Argentina survived that in last year's World Cup but Ireland didn't.
But that's three years away. Ireland merely wants a victory on Saturday, no matter how.
"We need the win," center Keith Earls said. "This is cup rugby, a cup final of sorts and that's the mentality we have to adopt for this game."
Ireland: Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Craig Gilroy, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip (captain), Chris Henry, Peter O'Mahony, Mike McCarthy, Donnacha Ryan, Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss,Cian Healy. Reserves: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Donncha O'Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden.
Argentina: Juan Martin Hernandez, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo; Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), Julio Farias Cabello, Manuel Carizza, Maximiliano Bustos, Eusebio Guinazu, Marcos Ayerza. Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Lobo, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Tomas Vallejos, Tomas Leonardi, Nicolas Vergallo, Gonzalo Tiesi, Manuel Montero.