Wilko is not England’s only threat :Contepomi

Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi has warned his team mates that there is a lot more to stopping England in the Rugby World Cup than just preventing Jonny Wilkinson from scoring.

Contepomi knows better than most the qualities of Wilkinson, having spent two seasons alongside England’s record points-scorer at French club Toulon.

Now he will be opposite the fly-half when the Pumas play Martin Johnson’s side in their Pool B opener at the Otago Stadium here on Saturday.

“For me it’s a great honour to have the possibility to play with him, to train with him,” said Contepomi, who will join Toulon’s rival Top 14 club Stade Francais after the World Cup.

“He is one of these players that does not come around that often,” Contepomi said of Wilkinson.

“For me he is one of the best players in the world and a great man and that makes him even better.”

“But we try to analyse England as a whole.”

This will be the 34-year-old Contepomi’s fourth World Cup but it looked as if he might miss out when he suffered a serious knee injury during Leinster’s European Cup semi-final win over Irish rivals Munster two years ago.

But now Contepomi, one of the stars of the Argentina side that reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2007, when England lost to South Africa in the final, is in at fly-half in place of the injured Juan Martin Hernandez.

Contepomi, who has spent much of his career in the centres, including forming a Test partnership with brother Manuel, said he’d been inspired by the thought of representing Argentina in New Zealand.

“Playing my fourth World Cup is a great honour and being captain of your country means a lot. To be able to play a World Cup in New Zealand, one of the proudest rugby nations in the world, is a great honour,” he said.

“After my injury two years ago, all I had in my mind was to be ready and fit for this World Cup.”

Argentina have played just one Test, a 28-13 defeat by Wales last month, in 2011 and he admitted it would be tough for the present-day Pumas to match the achievements of the 2007 team.

“Obviously, we would like to think we can go as far as the last World Cup or even further, but it will be a hard task.”

However, Contepomi was hopeful that Argentina’s inclusion next year in an expanded Four Nations tournament featuring southern hemisphere giants Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, would be a huge boost.

“We’ve been competitive against northern nations, probably because a lot our players are playing there in England, France, Ireland, Wales and Scotland,” he said.

“When you play them weekly at club level, why not compete with them at international level?

“Having the chance to play against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will be very tough for Argentina but I think in the long term it will be a good learning curve that will hopefully make us more competitive.”

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