Pichot backs Pumas to keep on surprising

Agustine Pichot does not believe Argentina are given the respect they deserve - and the Pumas are determined to do something about it.

Agustine Pichot does not believe Argentina are given the respect they deserve - and the Pumas are determined to do something about it.

Argentina have broken into the top four in the Test rankings and are in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time having beaten France, Ireland and Scotland.

But Pichot is convinced they are still looked down on by the likes of Sunday’s opponents South Africa and he is determined to set the record straight.

“If you ask the South African players, the New Zealand players, the Australian players to name five Argentinian players, they wouldn’t know,” said Pichot, the Pumas skipper.

“We know exactly how South Africa line-up, how New Zealand line-up. That is why we have a lot of respect for the teams that we play against and the only thing that we want is that kind of respect.

“It is an honour to be in the final four of the World Cup. It is a massive achievement for Argentinian rugby, for the players and coaches.

“But now we are here, we want more. We are not happy just to stay at this stage. We want to carry on surprising.”

Felipe Contepomi continued the theme after hearing South Africa coach Jake White had claimed his Springboks were underdogs heading into Sunday’s game, despite being odds on favourites to win the World Cup.

“He said that and many of his players said that they don’t fear us because we have never beaten them before. I don’t care,” said Contepomi, the Leinster centre.

Argentina have lost 11 meetings with South Africa dating back to 1993. The closest they came was in 2003, when Louis Koen landed a last-minute penalty to snatch the Springboks a 23-22 win in Port Elizabeth.

But Contepomi cannot think of a better occasion to break that duck than Sunday’s semi-final.

“We know the statistics but records are made to be broken,” he said.

“It is 80 minutes. I don’t know who is the favourite, and I don’t care, it is those 80 minutes that count.

“Argentina first of all have to win the battle up front and then have to make zero errors because against South Africa every error you make transforms into points.

“Then we have to be clever, try to position ourselves in South Africa’s territory and then every time we can we have to score.

“Whatever that means – drop goal, penalty or try, whatever. Take every single chance to score because against this team, we have suffered before, one error costs us the game.”

Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda named the same starting XV that defeated the Irish and the Scots.

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