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Petti remembers fan pictures with Argentina team-mate Hernandez in 2007

Eight years ago Guido Petti was posing for fan pictures with his hero Juan Martin Hernandez - now the Pumas pair will try to drive Argentina to a first World Cup final.

Petti was just 13 when Argentina and Hernandez battered hosts France 34-10 to secure a third-place finish in 2007: on Sunday he will square up to Australia in the Pumas' second World Cup semi-final.

The 20-year-old lock admitted that just last month he dug out that eight-year-old picture to show classy centre Hernandez, with the pair bursting into laughter at fate's quirks.

"I was 13 then, and it was such a big moment for Argentina," said Petti. " I went to that World Cup, watching matches in France.

"Last month I found a photo of me with Juan Martin (Hernandez) from that time in 2007.

"Now I'm playing next to him.

"We laughed a lot. He laughed at it, and said 'oh, time flies'."

Petti was immersed in rugby from the age of five at the fabled San Isidro club, where Dr Francisco Ocampo devised Argentina's much-vaunted "Bajada" scrum technique.

Despite quitting rugby for tennis for two years in his teens, Petti admitted he only ever dreamed of making it into the San Isidro first XV, to follow in his father's footsteps.

While plenty of youngsters idolise world superstars, Petti revealed his childhood role model as Brian Anthony, a loose-forward who starred at San Isidro for more than a decade.

That amateur ethos continues to course through the humble veins of Argentina's passionate but focused squad, with Petti already excelling at Test level despite barely being out of his teens.

"I never thought in 2007 I would be at this World Cup as a player," said Petti. " That was just a dream back then.

"All I was thinking about was playing for San Isidro.

"That was my objective in those days.

"My father took me to San Isidro, where he played.

"The player I liked most growing up was Brian Anthony, who played at my club. He was the guy I looked up to growing up.

"Last Sunday I found him in the crowd at the Ireland game, so that was very nice."


From Belfast Telegraph