Wednesday 21 August 2019

I thought they'd forgotten about World Cup defeat, says Puma star Landajo

Martin Landajo. Photo: Reuters
Martin Landajo. Photo: Reuters
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

One of the more futile notions doing the rounds this week is that if Ireland beat Argentina on Saturday, they will exact some form of revenge for being dumped out of the 2015 World Cup.

It is the one result that still haunts Joe Schmidt but this weekend's clash couldn't be further from what was at stake on that sobering afternoon in the Millennium Stadium.

A victory at the Aviva may help ease some of the pain, but it will certainly not erase it from memory.

Argentina are very much in transition, as they seem to be at this stage of every World Cup cycle, but in the last three tournaments, they have timed their run well. It's difficult not to think that the same could happen in two years.

"Oh really? They still think about that? I thought they had forgotten that? No, really," Martín Landajo wonders, as it's put to him that his side's stunning quarter-final victory two years ago left Ireland with plenty of emotional scars.

"We don't have to get into that one, there won't be much pressure for us. We just want to play the game, have fun and of course we want to win.

Head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: PA
Head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: PA

"We've never beaten Ireland in Ireland so that's our main thing but not the World Cup. We beat Ireland at the World Cups," he laughs.

Two years ago, it was the Pumas' electric scrum-half who set the tempo as Ireland were caught cold by their blistering pace and off-loading game.

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Argentina have gone through plenty of changes since then but their principles remain the same.

"We did the perfect game, I think," Landajo recalled.

"They did play well, but that day for us was perfect. I think if we want to beat Ireland this Saturday, we have to be perfect.

"Much more now because we have younger kids, who are not used to playing in these important games, so we have to be more clinical, more perfect.

"People were very happy when we got back, kids were joining clubs and rugby was becoming more popular. It happened in 2007, for the first time, that rugby became the second sport in Argentina.

"This time again, in 2015, when we got back people were very happy and rugby was very important."

The introduction of the Jaguares to Super Rugby has helped Argentina's development and while the Rugby Championship didn't go according to plan, they have full confidence in where they are, two years out from Japan 2019.

"That is our history. If you go back to our history it happens all the time," Landajo added.

"We have a lot of changes in the first two years (of a World Cup cycle) and when we get near the World Cup, it gets better. We're used to doing good at World Cups and I hope the same happens again.

"They've (Ireland) changed a bit, but still they're a European team. They kick the ball, not too much, but more than us and they defend much better than us because they like to defend and we like to attack.

"I saw changes but maybe Ireland are sure about their game and they've to change nothing. I don't know. I don't see a great change."

Schmidt will be desperate to prove him wrong.

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