Saturday, October 19, 2019
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SPORTS | 04-10-2019 07:00

No room for sentiment against England for history-seeking Argentina

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma defends his decision to sideline two of the biggest names in his squad, Nicolás Sánchez and Agustín Creevy, for their must-win World Cup clash with England.

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma has defended his decision to sideline two of the biggest names in his squad, Nicolás Sánchez and Agustín Creevy, for their must-win World Cup clash with England, saying there was no room for sentiment.

"This is our World Cup final. That's how important it is for us," Ledesma said of Saturday's clash in Tokyo Pool C, the so-called pool of death which also includes France as well as Tonga and the USA.

Argentina were narrowly beaten 23-21 by France and another loss would put them out of the tournament before the quarter-finals for the first time since 2003.

"If we win this game, we're in the quarter-finals. That's how big this game is," Ledesma said.

Fly-half Sánchez, so often a match-winner for Los Pumas, has been left out of the match-day 23 for the first time in three years.

Castres pivot Benjamín Urdapilleta will wear the 10 jersey with Lucas Mensa, a natural centre who has only played one Test, providing cover. 

The in-form Julián Montoya, who scored three tries against Tonga, remains at hooker with former captain Creevy on the bench where he is poised to make his 88th Test appearance and overtake the previous Argentina record held by former fly-half Felipe Contepomi.

"When we selected the team we think about the best team possible to win the game. It's nothing negative," Ledesma said. 

"England is a candidate for the title. They've been saying that for the last four years. Eddie Jones has been saying it. They have a lot of resources, a great team, but I'm confident it's going to be really hard for them to beat us. It's a really good opportunity to get into the history books of Argentine rugby." 

Ledesma, a hooker with the Argentine side that made the 2007 World Cup semi-finals and beat France in the play-off for third, said telling Sanchez he was not required was one of the toughest decisions he has made to make as coach. 

"I told Nico before I announced the team and it was very hard. But the most important thing is the team and everyone has to contribute even if they are left out of the 23. It is an important game, the most important of recent times for this team." 

Argentina have had an impressive run at the World Cup since 2007, making the quarter-finals four years later and finishing fourth in 2015. 

"It is a unique opportunity for this group to enter the great history of Los Pumas," the coach said. 

"In the history of the team there must be 20 matches that stand out and this would be one more."

Argentina line-up (15-1):

Emiliano Boffelli; Matías Moroni, Matías Orlando, Jerónimo De La Fuente, Santiago Carreras; Benjamín Urdapilleta, Tomás Cubelli; Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera (captain); Tomás Lavanini, Guido Petti; Juan Figallo, Juláan Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacements: 

Agustín Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Lucas Mensa, Bautista Delguy.

Kick off:

5.30am Argentine time, Saturday morning.

– AFP

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