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Pumas ready for 'fathers of rugby'

Argentina star Felipe Contepomi has tasted victory over England once and he is hungry for more as the Pumas prepare to tackle the "fathers of rugby" in Salta on Saturday.

Contepomi was in the Argentina side that beat England at Twickenham in 2006, a 25-18 victory that proved to be a significant staging post in the Pumas' journey to a bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup.

The 35-year-old Argentina captain holds English rugby dear to his heart - but that respect only serves to motivate him more. "For us it is very simple. England is where rugby was born. They are the fathers of this sport," Contepomi said.

"We have huge respect. They have always been a rugby nation we have copied. When we play England we are playing the inventors of this sport. They are the team with the biggest history in this sport.

"You always want to beat them. Winning at Twickenham was huge because it was the only time we have beaten England in England. Twickenham is the cathedral of rugby. It gave us a lot of self-belief and then it happened a year later in the World Cup."

Argentina beat England again in Salta four years ago but both sides are much changed since then. Bath prop David Wilson is the only England survivor. England head coach Stuart Lancaster is without 10 players on British and Irish Lions duty while he has chosen to rest the likes of Chris Robshaw and Chris Ashton from the summer tour.

But Contepomi, still an avid watcher of English rugby, rates England as the best team in Europe and he does not see too many weaknesses in the side he will face on Saturday.

"English rugby is in one of those moments of a lot of talented players arising, maybe not with vast experience but with a lot of talent," he said. "It is one of those moments you can see it will pay off and maybe, who knows, in the next World Cup for England. They have 10 Lions, they have rested players and you still see the players here with huge talent.

"Billy Twelvetrees has solidified as a 12, Jonathan Joseph as a 13 is one of those thrilling players for London Irish. Christian Wade is probably the fastest rugby player on earth, David Strettle is a guy with experience and Mike Brown is getting the taste of being first choice for England.

"Freddie Burns is a young talented player. It is a back line that you have to respect. From an English experience it is what you want to see two years before the next World Cup."


From Belfast Telegraph