Contepomi hopeful of facing Scotland
September 20, 2011
Contepomi admits Argentina's match with Scotland is their biggest in four years © Getty Images
Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi on Tuesday remained coy on his fitness for Sunday's vital World Cup Pool B clash with Scotland, but insisted the Pumas are able to win without him.
Fly-half Contepomi suffered a rib injury in the opening loss against England, a result which means the Pumas must beat Scotland in Wellington this weekend to have any hope of progressing to the quarter-finals.
"If I'm fit to play, I'll play," he said. "If I'm not I'm fully confident in the strategy and that the players will enter the pitch on Sunday and be competitive. That's what we're looking for - it's not about one player."
Argentina head coach Santiago Phelan will name his squad for Sunday's match on Friday, with Contepomi having the final say on whether he is fit to be included or not. The former Bristol and Leinster fly-half, now at Stade Francais, added: "The injury's coming on well so hopefully I'll be fit for Sunday.
"I need to test myself and we'll leave that for the end of the week. But I think you have to do what's best for the team and if you're not fit to play you shouldn't play.
"I think the players that are playing at the moment are in really good form and we can field a very competitive team, either way. We try not to depend on individuals, but have a team performance."
The 34-year-old playmaker, who was replaced by Santiago Fernandez for the 43-8 win over Romania, is featuring in his fourth and final World Cup but plans to continue next season as Argentina join the Tri Nations in the southern hemisphere's elite competition.
Contepomi acknowledges the clash with Scotland at Wellington Regional Stadium is the Pumas' most significant since they finished third at the 2007 tournament. And he is aware a slip-up on Sunday or against Georgia in the final group game would see his side exit the competition.
"It's the most important game because it's the next game - it's one that we have to win and that's it," he said. "If we win on Sunday the next most important game in the next four years would be Georgia.
"At the same time we approach it the same as we approached the last two games in the World Cup - to prepare well, to have a good training week, to try to analyse Scotland and play to our strengths.
"Anything can happen on matchday, but I think the only thing you can control is your preparation. If we can get that spot on we'll enter the match well - that's the most important thing."
Scotland have won three of their last four fixtures with Argentina, including a 2-0 Test series success in South America in June 2010, the last time the nations met. Scotland are ranked seventh in the world, to Argentina's ninth, but the Pumas are higher seeds in the World Cup. Contepomi praised the job Andy Robinson has done as head coach and the strength of the Scotland squad.
"Scotland are a very good team, they play really well with their forwards - it will be a bruising battle and that's what rugby's about," he said. "We're looking forward to that.
"They have a lot of quality players, a lot of competition for spots and that makes for an even better team. I'm sure it will be a very tough game for us and obviously at the moment they're ranked above us and that says they're better than us.
"The last two games we played they beat us - that's the cruel reality. (But) the only thing that counts is this 80 minutes we're going to play on Sunday and that's what we're looking for - to try to play our best 80 minutes of the last four years."
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