Emotion to lead Los Pumas' way

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 09:16
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INTERVIEW: Argentina's 33-year-old veteran lock Juan Manuel Leguizamón believes that the passion and emotion shown by the players in the Argentina national team has the ability to lift their game.

Los Pumas play the Springboks in their 2016 Rugby Championship opener at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.

Argentina recorded their first-ever victory over South Africa in 2015 when they defeated the Springboks 37-25 in Durban. Leguizamón, speaking to the media in Johannesburg where the South Americans are based, said that the team simply had to make history after seeing the 1965 Argentina national team in the stands.

"Winning against the Springboks in South Africa was the first time for Argentina. We had the 1965 Pumas next to us so that was very helpful to see them during the anthem," Leguizamón said.

Argentina captured the world's attention at the 2015 World Cup in England as they played an expansive game of running rugby which involved fantastic link-up play between both forwards and backs, before the ball was kept alive through some magnificent handling skills.

Los Pumas finished fourth at that tournament and continued their fine form with a 30-24 victory against Italy in June before beating France 30-19 in Tucuman. However, the following week's performance was anything but impressive for Argentina as they were humiliated 0-27 by France in the second Test match of the two-match Test Series in Tucuman.

Leguizamón said that Los Pumas want to erase the memories of their lacklustre performance against France with good performances throughout the Rugby Championship, starting with South Africa on Saturday.

"The last game we played against France we didn't play well because we didn't score one point but it's in the past and now we are focused on South Africa and the Rugby Championship," he added.

Flank Pablo Matera added that his team will be able to beat the Springboks on Saturday if they focus on their own game.

"I think that we can beat them [South Africa]. I think that we are confident that we can play our best match but playing against the Boks is always a difficult match.

"I know they have a lot of new players from the Lions who we have already played [against] and I think it depends more on us and how we play and how we develop the game," Matera said.

He added that the Nelspruit altitude will not pose a big challenge to his team, as they arrived in Johannesburg a week before the game, and they have experience of playing in altitude having played against the Springboks at Soccer City in Soweto in 2013.

"It's good that we came here many days before to get used to the altitude and I think we are ready. I played in 2013 in Soweto and I think the altitude is similar, so I think that we are going to be ok with that," he added.

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