THE last meeting between Scotland and Argentina was a milestone occasion for Zander Fagerson, but the tight-head prop does not look back at the deciding Test of last summer’s three-match series in South America with any fondness.

In fact, his sense of frustration at how that game played out has been a driving force for the 26-year-old during his preparation for the resumption of hostilities against the Pumas at Murrayfield this afternoon.

“It was my 50th cap so I remember it pretty well,” he says. “It ate me up all summer. We were in the game and playing well but in that last 20 minutes or so we just fell away. Then they got their tails up with a few passages of quick play and scored in the last seconds of the game.

“It was really frustrating because there were moments when we could have put that game to bed. We were held up over the line and then they went down the field and indiscipline costs us because they get the scrum which they eventually scored off.

“So, that one definitely hurt, and I am looking forward to making amends tomorrow.

“We know it is going to be a really big challenge because Argentina have had some really good results in the last three or four months – including beating New Zealand and Australia – since we played them in the summer.

“They’ve got threats all over the park, a really dangerous backline, and a big, physical forward pack. They had a good result against England two weeks ago and it was a close game for them against Wales last weekend, so I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

This will be Fagerson’s fourth start in as many weeks, playing Test matches in rugby’s most physically demanding position, and with just a six-day turnaround he has done well to shake off the bumps, bruises and general fatigue of last Saturday’s New Zealand clash to be ready to go again.

“I’m feeling as fresh as a daisy,” the Glasgow Warriors man insists, before confirming that he has not used his recent workload as an excuse to take it easy in training this week.

“You can’t stay out of these things. If I was WP Nel it would be a different story. If you’re the ‘Squad-father’ you can tap someone else on the shoulder and say, ‘you do that rep’, but I’m still young so I’ve got to do it all.

“You focus on the recovery and that’s a key thing for me. When I was starting out, I was told by some of the older boys, ‘make sure you buy into your recovery and get stuff that works for you’, and I feel I’ve got a pretty good system now. I do my ice bath, get in the sauna, keep moving and I feel great.”

The really frustrating thing for Fagerson, his team-mates, and Scotland supporters is that the late slump against Argentina back in July has become a bit of habit. Since then, Scotland have played three games this Autumn, managing to beat Fiji a fortnight ago but losing their two matches against tier one nations.

Against both Australia three weeks ago and New Zealand last week they let nine-point leads slip through their fingers in the final 20 minutes. On each occasion, they found themselves a man down for crucial 10-minute spells due to conceding yellow-cards.

Fagerson says no sleep has been lost worrying about this tendency to implode during the final quarter of matches, but he did recognise the need for the team to address the issue by staying focussed for the full 80-minutes if they want to avoid another heart-breaking loss today.

“International rugby is all about small margins,” he says. “In high-pressure moments, it’s about making the right decision, and not letting teams off the hook.

“It’s all about being in the moment and sticking to our systems and processes. That’s where we sometimes get undone, when boys go off script and give away stupid penalties. So, that’s a key work-on for us.”

“Sometimes when you’re over-fatigued and under pressure you think you can solve things on your own, when you should trust your team-mates to go another phase,” he adds. “If you’re in the defensive line and there’s already two people in the breakdown and you go in for a jackal then you’re just wasting another man, so you stay out instead and keep your width and wait another phase for an opportunity to come. It’s all about trust.”

Not only is this Fagerson’s fourth consecutive start of the Autumn, it is his 11th start in 12 matches played by Scotland during this calendar year, and he came off the bench after 45 minutes of the other one (against Wales in February).

With Nel celebrating his 37th birthday before the World Cup, the team’s reliance on the Glasgow man to anchor the scrum is a concern, which is why it is encouraging to see 23-year-old Murphy Walker in line for a second cap off the bench this afternoon.

“I love working with Murphy because he is always keen to learn, picking everybody’s brains, and asking for feedback on the scrum sessions,” says Fagerson of his Warriors team-mate. “He has that appetite for learning which is the key thing for young players coming through so he will have a good impact when he comes on. He is a mobile prop, and his scrummaging has come on leaps and bounds.

“I think the summer tour was massive for him because he didn’t play in the Test matches but he trained week-in and week-out at that intensity. He has things to work on, but he has come on a lot and is getting his chance. I am really proud of him.”