Argentina rugby armed and dangerous, declares All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

Jaguares. Argentina. Call them what you will, Steve Hansen just calls them an outstanding rugby team.

The All Blacks coach delivered an unequivocal judgment on the state of Argentine rugby ahead of an important little period where the might of the South American nation was about to assess itself against the very best on offer from New Zealand.

On Saturday night in Christchurch, the Jaguares of Argentina – more or less the World Cup-bound Pumas in the guise of a franchise – will tackle back-to-back champs the Crusaders in their first ever Super Rugby final.

A fortnight later, thousands of kilometres away in busy Buenos Aires, the All Blacks and Argentina national team (the Jaguares repackaged) face off in the opening match of the truncated Rugby Championship, which is commonly accepted as just a fancy way of saying World Cup buildup match.

Whatever way you look at it, Hansen is pretty sure we are in store for some fabulous rugby as the vastly improved might of Argentina flexes its vastly more substantial muscle.

Some were calling last Saturday's semifinal in Christchurch the real final, where a magnificent Hurricanes challenge was only just staved off. But Hansen's view is that the two best teams in the competition will meet on Saturday night and that the Jaguares are a real threat to rain on Scott Robertson's breakdancing parade.

"They're using their whole team," said the All Blacks coach mid-training camp in Auckland when asked to assess what improvements the Jaguares had made. "They've always had big bruising forwards, but their backs have scored some sensational tries. They really opened the Brumbies up [in the semifinal], and every opportunity they had off turnover ball they punished.

"They're playing with a lot of confidence and together as a team rather than as a group of individuals."

Hansen's view was that the Crusaders would have to bring their A game in the final.

"You combine their strength as a forward pack and what they're doing with ball in hand in the backline and it makes them a really dangerous side. Traditionally they've been a strong scrummaging side … they've lost a little bit of that strength but gained a lot of other ones.

"The biggest weapon they've gained is confidence. They've got a belief. You can achieve anything in life … 90 per cent of it is believing you can actually do it. They're going down there believing 100 per cent they can beat the Crusaders, so that will make them dangerous."

The All Blacks coach said there would be subtle differences as they morphed into the national side, but there's "a uniformity of Argentine rugby that appears as good as I've ever seen it".

He also felt it was clear the Jaguares had figured a few things out about the need to develop a big base of players to deal with their exacting travel toll, and then use them effectively.

"Their game has changed too. Now they play a more Super Rugby-type game using speed and movement of ball, as opposed to traditional up the jumper and just play with a kicking first five and halfback."

Hansen wondered whether the travel toll might eventually catch up to the South Americans in some form, but admitted it's something the more you do, the more you get used to.

"They're worthy finalists. They're not there by chance," he said of the Jaguares. "The two best teams in Super Rugby are playing in the final."

Asked if this confidence in their makeup made them legitimate World Cup threats, Hansen hedged his bets a little.

"Confidence is a fluid thing. Whilst they're full of confidence at the moment it doesn't take much to dent it either … If they do win [the Super Rugby final] I hope they celebrate it long and hard because 39 of their squad are in the [national] group that's been named, and a few headaches will be good for a couple of weeks."