Pumas refuse to take Gatland bait

ARGENTINA have made a diplomatic response after Wales boss Warren Gatland questioned the Pumas’ unofficial status as world rugby’s most revered scrummagers.

Gatland said he disagreed with those who rate Argentina’s scrum as number one on the planet and claimed Wales would not be putting it “on a pedestal” ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Pumas skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said: “We cannot worry what other people think or believe. We believe in our players, and we will do everything possible to take this team forward.”

And Argentina coach Santiago Phelan added: “We have a lot of respect about the teams we play against. It is very important to have that respect. We believe in our scrum — it is very important in the game. We have experienced players there, and we will look to put pressure on, but it is one part of the game.”

Phelan has made two changes from the side beaten 16-9 by England at Twickenham last Saturday.

London Irish scrum-half Alfredo Lalanne makes way for Agustin Figuerola, while Bristol lock Mariano Sambucetti replaces Esteban Lozada, partnering Patricio Albacete in the second row.

For Wales, Shane Williams is adamant rugby’s escalating aerial ping-pong will not kick his renowned running game into touch.

Williams goes into Saturday’s Millennium Stadium clash with the world-class figure of 46 tries in 66 Tests. But if he fails to score against the Pumas — or against Australia next week — 2009 will prove the most barren scoring year of his Wales career.

The Welsh wing wizard has scored just two tries this year.

But Williams fervently hopes there can still be a place for entertainers alongside the tacticians.

“I watched the England game against Argentina last weekend and there was a lot of kicking,”he said.

“But usually with the ping-pong, as we call it, it does create holes and gaps, which is where I come into my own.

Meanwhile Scotland captain Chris Cusiter claims his side have a great chance to make history against Australia this weekend.

“Beating Australia is the first thing on our minds,” Cusiter said.

“We’ve spoken all week about how we’re going to do it, how we feel we need to play and the quality of work that’s needed to beat Australia.”

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