Pumas focused despite hype

RIMAS ALVAREZ KAIRELIS is confident Argentina will let their rugby do the talking after seeing the hype around the squad reach unprecedented levels following their qualification for the World Cup knockout stages.

The Pumas are being tipped as genuine title contenders after coming through Ireland’s Pool D — dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ — unbeaten, and they have a winnable last-eight tie with Scotland coming up this weekend.

They have risen to fourth in the IRB world rankings, and the football-mad nation has turned rugby crazy as a result of their achievements so far this tournament.

Indeed, the Superclasico derby between Boca Juniors and River Plate — one of the biggest matches in world football — has been rescheduled so it does not clash with Sunday’s quarter-final against the Scots. The Pumas are determined to stay grounded, however, insisting their focus is on Scotland and nothing else.

“All the media are saying that (they are potential World Cup winners) but we are trying not to think that way,” said lock Kairelis.

“We’re going into this Scotland match the same way we started against France and Ireland.

“Getting to the quarter-finals is like a dream for us. We know now that we have a big chance.

“It’s the first time for an Argentina team to have this chance and we are taking it very seriously.

“We can’t believe we have achieved this.”

Not only are Argentina above Scotland in the world rankings, they are also undefeated against the men in blue since 1990.

No member of the current Argentina squad has been on the losing side against the Scots. But the Pumas have been playing down their chances all week and they are not going to change now.

Toulouse prop Omar Hasan, who like Kairelis will probably start on the bench this weekend, said: “Despite what the rankings say, we are at the same level and we are not any better than them.

“Scotland have a line-out as good as Ireland’s, and (Chris) Paterson has a cannon in his leg, so we must not relax for a second.

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