Ahead of tonight’s first Test against Argentina, see below for the thoughts of Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi, who captains the Pumas in Santa Fe, and debutant winger Tomas De Vedia.
FELIPE CONTEPOMI (Argentina out-half and captain):
– ON PLAYING IN SANTA FE –
“It is worthless to play two Test matches in Buenos Aires. Playing one in the interior is good and Santa Fe has never hosted an international game. It gives you a look of the country and the reality. Argentina is not Buenos Aires – it has a lot more.”
– ON THE IRELAND TEAM –
“I always say Ireland is the team, in the last four years, that is most improved around the world, not only with their starting fifteen, but with strength in depth. There will be players there raising up their hands to say ‘here I am.’ They will be here to ask some questions of the starting fifteen that was left at home.
“We know some of those players are in really good form. Ireland’s tour has been billed as a last chance for the fringe players to round out the squad for the World Cup. The first fifteen positions have been set aside.
“Jamie (Heaslip), ‘Gleese’ (Keith Gleeson) and Trevor (Hogan) are really in good form. They are all fighting for a place to go to the World Cup and, you never know, a place in the starting fifteen there.”
– ON THE PUMAS’ SELECTION –
“It’s a young Argentina side, given what we have available because of the French league. We believe it’s the strongest team we have available at the moment. Our coach Marcelo Loffreda also wants to have a look at the young players who may take their World Cup chances.
“The back row is strongest because it’s available but still we have no (Gonzalo) Longo for example. In terms of style, we can’t change too much.
“If you get together four days before, how can you change a lot of things? At the end of the day, it’s Argentina versus Ireland and nothing much changes much there.”
– ON THE FIRST TEST AND PREPARATIONS –
“The reality is that we get together for four days before the match. We have to train two long sessions each day. You don’t get a rest. It is the way it has to be. Knowing most of the players, I spoke with (coach) Loffreda.
“You focus a certain amount on the other team. Then, you have to focus on yourselves. Hopefully, with two Tests back-to-back, we will be able to take what comes on Saturday and improve on it for the second Test.”
TOMAS DE VEDIA (Argentina’s debutant winger):
– ON HIS FIRST GAME FOR HIS COUNTRY –
“I’m the only new player in this squad, so my presence is very different to the others. However, as it is my first time, I have nothing to lose. I come to play well and if I can do so and then be included in further nominations, it would be great.
“I’m shocked (about being picked). I try not to think about this a lot because perhaps it is not positive, but I am very happy.”