Argentina aiming to tame England

The shift in mentality in Argentinian rugby will see the Pumas head to Twickenham on Saturday more in expectation than hope as they look to add to beleaguered England’s woes.


Argentina confirmed their position as a major force in international rugby union by finishing third at the 2007 World Cup.


The catalyst for their success that tournament was arguably the Pumas’ 25-18 win over England in November 2006, Argentina’s first victory at Twickenham.


Argentina have this year been invited to join southern hemisphere giants South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in an expanded Four Nations tournament from 2012, a move that can only make the Pumas grow as a rugby nation.


And such is their development Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe insists anything other than a win over England, well beaten 18-9 by Australia last weekend at Twickenham, will be regarded as a disappointment.


“We still have a young team but Argentina have done a lot of amazing things in the last five years and it gives you the confidence to think we can really do it,” said Fernandez Lobbe at the squad’s hotel on Monday.


“We are very excited,” the back-row forward, who plays his club rugby alongside England star Jonny Wilkinson at French club Toulon, added.


“It could be a great opportunity to consolidate and make that big step forward and become a solid group and team.


“But we know that what the group (at the 2007 World Cup) achieved was based on hard work. We have the mentality that we know we can do it.”


However, he stressed: “But we know that as happened in June, if we are not up for it, we will have a really bad day.”

 

Argentina and England tied a two-match Test series 1-1 in June, both countries winning their home games.

Martin Johnson’s side claimed the opener with a convincing 37-15 victory at Old Trafford before the Pumas got their revenge in Salta, 24-22, a week later.


Head coach Santiago Phelan is looking to build on that victory approaching a tour that also sees Argentina take on Wales and Scotland this month.


“The problem is that we don’t have as much competition (as other major nations),” said former Argentina international Phelan.


“We have been invited to play in the Four Nations but from this year until the 2011 World Cup, we will only play in June and November, so every game is very important for us.


“We are trying to keep working on what we did in June, to grow as a team with new players ahead of the (2011) World Cup. This tour will be very important for us.”


Phelan added: “We aren’t coming just to see what happens. I think Argentinian rugby grew up when our best players came to play in Europe -in France and England.


“We will go out and try to play our best rugby – we don’t talk about winning or losing.” Argentina are missing three of their key players on this tour – fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez, their star of the 2007 World Cup, has a back problem while centre Felipe Contepomi and flanker Juan Martin Leguizamon have knee injuries.


Meanwhile wing Lucas Amarosino, who scored a superb try in English title-holders Leicester’s shock 22-17 win over world champions South Africa on Friday, sustained a calf injury after playing for the Tigers for the second time in three days during Sunday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat by Leeds.


England, under pressure after their loss to Australia, have their own injury concerns but have a strength in depth that Argentina lack.


Phelan remains confident, however, his squad will perform this tour.


“We have a lot of injuries to important players in the team,” he said.


“It’s not good for us not to have Juan Martin and Felipe but we have been working with other players, who are coming in good condition.


“It’s good for them to have minutes out on the pitch. There are a lot of up and coming players so this is a

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