Monday 23 September 2019

Landajo: 2015 World Cup victory over Ireland is now history for us

Martin Landajo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Martin Landajo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

There was a time when the rivalry between Argentina and Ireland was more to do with the Pumas' distaste with what the Ireland team represented rather than the Irish players themselves.

They were outside the tent looking in; the Irish, to them smugly representing an old guard disinterested in acquiring new members, were a symbol of their disaffection.

And so landing a blow on the lumbering Goliaths, whether in Lens or Paris, marked the only reasonable and legitimate statement of rebellion, quite apart from the occasionally illegal insurrections on the field which have pockmarked this fixture.

All has changed utterly. Now resident in the elite southern hemisphere fixture list, their world ranking may wildly waver but their place in the world elite is unquestioned after the completion of their seventh Rugby Championship.

"Everything is all new for us," notes scrum-half Martin Landajo, a survivor of the most recent World Cup coup against the Irish, at the Millennium Stadium in 2015.

They still haven't won in Dublin but they see a bigger picture than the dreary November rain that greeted them in UCD yesterday afternoon.

Playing the best - even if they rarely beat them - will all lead towards their almost uncanny ability to peak at the apex of the World Cup cycle.

And even though they have swapped the hard turf of the south for the sodden surfaces of the north, they believe Ireland are truly one of the best now too.

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"I see a big change in Ireland. They are playing some great rugby and are number two in the world now.

"They are doing a lot of things well and seem to be very confident in what they are trying to do in every match. They will be a very difficult team.

"But of course, Ireland will be just as tough as any of the teams that we have played in the Rugby Championship.

"They are playing some great rugby. They are a great team, one of the best in the world."

Conor Murray is a key component of franking Ireland's current eminence but he will be marked absent, although Landajo is more keen to emphasise the needs of Los Pumas.

Having cut Ireland open with an expansionist policy in 2015, some harsh lessons down south, as well as the sudden promotion to the hot seat of the grizzled Mario Ledesma, have prompted his team to tweak their style somewhat.

"We know he (Murray) is important but it doesn't make any difference to me who plays instead of him because Ireland is a great team.

"I don't know the other nines so I will tell you after the match if Ireland have been wounded by his loss. I am just worried about my own game and how the team plays.

"This year we have started to change our game.

"We have started to kick the ball a little more. Before we used to play every ball but now we are more half and half.

"We needed to change it up a bit. So that may be similar to Ireland. They like to kick the ball a lot too.

"We love to play with the ball in hand but we acknowledge we need to have new weapons. The key to that game in 2015 was defence.

"We are totally different now, 2015 is in the past.

"It is a good memory to have but we have a new team and we have a new way of playing."

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