Pumas are a long way off the pace: Contepomi

Felipe Contepomi says that Argentina are ‘miles away’ from where they need to be in the run up to World Cup 2011, following a 29-9 defeat to Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

The Argentine captain made an emotional return to the city where he spent six years with Leinster, winning the Magners League and European Cup with the Irish province, but failed to impress, missing four of his seven kicks on goal.

Argentina’s usually dominant scrum also faltered, while their backs were disappointing, failing to make the most of the massive amount of possession they enjoyed in the second half.

Trailing 19-3 at the break, following a Stephen Ferris try and 14 points from the boot of Contepomi’s successor at Leinster, Jonny Sexton, Santiago Phelan’s side failed to trouble Ireland’s line and lost out to a late try from Gordon D’Arcy.

“We are miles away if we are realistic,” Contepomi admitted. “The (performance in) World Cup in 2007 came from a team that needed to fail in 2003 to recognise what was needed.

“We don’t want the next World Cup to be a failure to (help) prepare for the following one (in 2015) but definitely we have a lot of work to do.

“Unfortunately we have only one or two games before the World Cup so hopefully the three months preparation before the World Cup will give us a chance to gel.”

Jonny Sexton’s flawless 19-point haul drew praise from Contepomi, who had claimed pre-match that the Leinster man should be Ireland’s no.10 at next year’s World Cup instead of Ronan O’Gara.

“He is getting more confident,” added Contepomi, “well, he has always been confident but for the Irish team he is getting better and better.

“It is really nice to see this, especially with a very important Six Nations and the World Cup coming.”

Ireland coach Declan Kidney was pleased to end a testing year with victory, against a team that has historically posed Ireland more problems than most.

The 2009 Grand Slam winning coach believes his squad has grown sufficiently in the calendar year and hopes to be spoiled for choice by the time the Six Nations rolls around next year.

“I’m delighted for the players,” said Kidney, “they’ve worked really hard over the past five weeks. We’d a number of objectives, one was to build a squad, and after a four games series, we saw today everybody buying into it.

“We’ve a heap to do, but it’s a nice way to finish.

“We have played without John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery and Rory Best, and we did quite well for such a young pack. We have to see who is around in January.”

Brian O’Driscoll, on the day of his 107th cap, left the pitch before full time. It was unusual to see the skipper depart early and Kidney admits he’s a doubt for Leinster’s European Cup games in December.

“Brian is the one guy I have a concern over,” he admitted, “he has gone for an x-ray on his jaw. The treatment for which I’m not sure.

“It was just prudent to take him off. Brian was comfortable himself. He asked for a few minutes but eventually the medics said no he needs to come off.”

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