Daniel Hourcade (AFP)
Bagshot – Argentina face their biggest challenge of the Rugby World Cup in Sunday’s semi-final against an Australia side Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade regards as masters of the breakdown.
“Last week we said the key was in the breakdown (against Ireland) and now we must multiply our defensive attributes because Australia are the best team in the world at the breakdown,” Hourcade told reporters on Friday.
“Our defence is going to be fundamental … Australia’s capacity in ball-winning is very high, they’re a team with an average (per match) of 12-14 balls recovered at the breakdown.”
Hourcade said Argentina, who beat Ireland 43-20 in Cardiff, would have to stop Australia in the first two phases of their attacks to be able to control them.
Argentina, however, have impressed with their own attacking game and strong defence with Hourcade admitting he had not expected them to gel quite so quickly.
“I didn’t expect the leap, the ‘click’ made by some of the players which normally would have taken longer and especially in an event like this, a World Cup, that’s perhaps a surprise,” he said at the squad’s base outside London.
“But we knew that at some moment they were going to make that click and several have done it here, it’s fantastic.”
Captain Agustin Creevy said he was impressed with the players who came off the bench against Ireland, when only three points separated the teams, and helped the Pumas pull away in the final 20 minutes.
Creevy added only a serious injury would prevent him from playing in the semi-final, calling it the biggest match of his career.
“I’m always going to be ok for the Pumas jersey,” said Creevy who has been nursing a leg muscle strain since four days before the quarter-final in Cardiff.
The hooker, regarded as one of the best in the world, played for 50 minutes against Ireland but has not taken part in training this week.
“I don’t feel any pain, I’m ok, it was just a precaution (not training) and I have a lot of faith in how it’s evolving,” he said.
“I’m better off than last week when I played with the same injury after having only four days till the match. This time I’ve had all week.”