Passionate Pumas play with ‘heart in hand’

Tomas Cubelli insists freedom of expression will be crucial to Argentina’s chances of reaching a maiden World Cup final.

The softly-spoken 26-year-old will share scrum-half duties with Martin Landajo in Sunday’s World Cup semi-final against Australia, reprising their career-long friendly rivalry once more.

Argentina’s fearless attacking has lit up the World Cup, head coach Daniel Hourcade telling his charges “we play with our heart in our hand”.

The passionate Pumas are free to imprint individual and collective personality into their rugby, and Cubelli believes the results speak for themselves.

“I think people act in the game as they are in life,” said Cubelli, signed up to Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise.

“It’s a rule that as you are outside of the field that’s how you’ll play.”

Now head coach Hourcade’s men face their second World Cup semi-final in eight years, with many anticipating a watershed moment in the Pumas’ history.

The inception of the Super Rugby franchise, based in Buenos Aires, will hand the nation’s game a real home.

Argentina have already flourished in the Rugby Championship thanks to regular clashes with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

A club foothold could easily accelerate their progress once again. More vague but nevertheless still important however, is the concept of identity. New Zealand’s World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry helped Argentina rediscover theirs in 2012.

Henry used his consultancy stint to tell the Pumas to be themselves. Hourcade and company have never looked back.

Cubelli shares half-back duties with Landajo, and in terms of personality the two could hardly be more apposite.

Where Cubelli keeps counsel and stays quiet, Landajo seeks company and cracks jokes. Each nine is just as important as the other to the Pumas, and despite their different characteristics, Cubelli admitted they remain firm friends.

“He is a funny guy, very sharp,” said Cubelli of the 27-year-old Landajo.

“Maybe I’m a little bit more serious, a bit more shy.

“I also like to joke a little bit, but a little bit more shy.”

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