England will come up against a full-strength Argentina side this weekend when Martin Johnson’s men get their World Cup campaign under way against the ever-improving South Americans. Argentina’s head coach Santiago Phelan has named the strongest line-up available to him and will be looking for a repeat of their first game at the 2007 tournament, where the Pumas sprung a massive surprise to beat host nation France in the opening game of the World Cup four years ago.
Phelan has made just a single change from the side that were comfortably beaten by Wales in Cardiff last month, outside centre Gonzalo Tiesi returning to the midfield in place of Marcelo Bosch. There will be a Premiership influence in the Argentinean back-line with Exeter’s Gonzalo Camacho and Leicester’s Horacio Agulla lining up on the wings. London Irish scrum half Alfredo Lalanne will have to settle for his place on the bench while Leicester front-row Marcos Ayerza misses out. The Rugby World Cup betting suggests they should give England a real game.
Argentina’s preparations for this World Cup have hardly gone as smoothly as most other teams heading to New Zealand. The South Americans have played less than half the amount of matches since the last World Cup as most of their rival Test playing nations. Geographically, being so far away from the action has caused the Argentine side plenty of problems but that should change next year when they join Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in a revamped Tri-Nations tournament.
Argentina stunned the world four years ago to finish third in the tournament but the squad isn’t as strong as that one and opponents will be preparing themselves for a tough match when playing the South Americans. Those looking at the rugby betting should bear this in mind. Experienced centre Felipe Contepomi will lead the side in New Zealand and the captain knows the next month will be far from a walk in the park.
“We’ve only played one Test match in the last 11 months, so naturally we’re looking forward to growing up as a team throughout the tournament.”
“Our expectation is to come and play our best and if we can be competitive on Saturday, that will be great and start the tournament as best we can.”
Click here to view the Argentina side to play England.