Pumas' opportunity to make history
The pundits are giving them no chance of an upset, but don't tell Argentina that. Jan de Koning reports.
The pundits are giving them no chance of an upset, but don't tell Argentina that.
The Pumas, in their opening match of the inaugural Rugby Championship, go up against the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday as underdogs - with most bookmakers giving them a head start of 13 to 16 points.
And to top that Argentina, in 13 Tests since South Africa's readmission to internationals rugby, has not a single victory to show for their efforts.
However, coach Santiago Phelan, without batting an eyelid, told a media contingent in Cape Town that his team truly believes they can upstage the mighty Boks.
"We always go onto the field with the intention of winning for Argentina," the passionate Puma mentor said, adding: "What the expectations of [other] people are, doesn't matter to me.
"We as a team will always give 100 percent and produce our best effort and attempt to get the best result [a win]."
He readily acknowledges the fact that the Pumas, ranked eighth in the world, are up against one of the best teams in the Boks, at No.3.
"Yes, it will be a very, very tough game," Phelan said adding: "We have confidence in our team's ability.
"When we go onto that field we will do our best to get the best result [a win].
"The reality is that we have never beaten the Springboks, but every game for us is an opportunity.
"This will be new opportunity to give 100 percent and attempt to win the game," he said of what is already an historic occasion.
It is not just Argentina's debut in the Southern Hemisphere championship - previously only contested by the Boks, All Blacks and Wallabies - but they will also make their first appearance at the famous Newlands stadium.
Phelan was very complementary towards their opponents, calling South Africa a "dynamic" team.
"The Boks are a very complete team.
"They play a very physical game and it is always difficult for teams who play against them. They have the players to play a very dynamic game and they can play a forward orientated game - that is why I say they are a complete team with excellent players the most impressive aspect is their physicality."
By Jan de Koning