Australia will not underestimate ‘dangerous’ Argentina, says Matt Giteau

• Playmaker praises Pumas’ ‘beautiful man’ Juan Martín Hernández
• Giteau delighted with warm welcome back to Australia World Cup squad

Until a few months ago the Australia playmaker Matt Giteau expected that he would spend the Rugby World Cup “doing some speaking gigs and earning some cash”. Instead he is using his whip-sharp oratory to warn the Wallabies of the looming dangers in Argentina’s squad – particularly from his Toulon team-mate Juan Martín Hernández.

Giteau has seen at first hand what El Mago can conjure up – but joked that he admired him for more than just his rugby skills. “He’s a beautiful man,” he said, smiling. “I’ve always told him that at Toulon.” But after the laughter had died down in Australia’s press conference Giteau got serious. “He’s very skilful, he’s tough, defensively strong and he adds a lot of stability to that team,” he added. “I know what it’s like to play with him, especially in big games, and he’s a very good player.

“He’s very confident and the things he can do, a lot of other players can’t. I have a lot of respect for him.”

That respect extends to an Argentina side that unexpectedly blew away Ireland in the final stages of their quarter-final. “They’re incredibly dangerous,” warned Giteau. “You saw what they did to Ireland and how far they pushed New Zealand in the first game. They’ve blown teams away quite easily. You can’t underestimate them. We won’t underestimate them. It just won’t happen.

“They are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment. They are a very physical team, they are very passionate, but they also like to throw the ball around. They’re not just good up front, they’re good everywhere. If you give them loose ball they are going to punish you.”

Giteau has played only once against Argentina in his 13-year international career, in the opening game of the World Cup in 2003, in part because he did not play for the Wallabies from 2011 to 2015 because of rules barring foreign-based players from representing Australia.

But now they have been relaxed, Giteau, 33, admits he is loving the experience of being back with Australia. “It’s just been an amazing ride for me this last six months,” he said. “To come back in and to be welcomed in by such a great group, they’ve made me feel so welcome straight away.

“Even the guys that don’t get a lot of game time have been superb around the group,” he added. “That just speaks volumes about the environment that’s been created by the coaches but also the one that’s been created by the leaders as well.”

The Australia flanker Scott Fardy expects Sunday’s semi-final to be won up front and believes his side can match the Pumas’ pack at the scrum. “I played them this year in Mendoza, it was a tough, physical battle so we’re expecting the same when we come up against them on Sunday,” he said. “They’re always such a big, physical side and love the set piece.”

Fardy also paid tribute to the Wallabies coach, Michael Cheika, and claimed that he was not as scary to play under as is assumed. “There’s a lot of love for Cheik – the boys really enjoy playing under him,” he said.

“He’s got a lot of passion and that comes through in his coaching and it comes through in the way he talks, but there’s also a lot of love and respect for Cheik within the group.”

Fardy joked that Cheika still liked to join in training and throw his weight around even though he was getting “a bit old now”, but said the squad appreciated how he was driving them – and himself – to get better.

“I think he really enjoys the process of getting better and he pushes that on to his players,” he said. “He wants to improve, and we all want to improve as a group. That’s what we’re all trying to do.”

Contributor

Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Australia’s Michael Cheika: we expected Argentina to be in semi-final
The Australia head coach, Michael Cheika, has Israel Folau and David Pocock back in his side for the Rugby World Cup semi-final against Argentina

Paul Rees

23, Oct, 2015 @5:02 PM

Article image
David Pocock and Australia back row inspire victory over Argentina | Andy Bull
The return of the No8 David Pocock reunited Australia’s impressive back-row trio, which has been the team’s heartbeat at the World Cup

Andy Bull at Twickenham

25, Oct, 2015 @7:47 PM

Article image
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade left in tears at defeat by Australia
Argentina’s coach, Daniel Hourcade, was left tearful but optimistic by his team’s performance in their Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat by Australia at Twickenham

Paul Rees at Twickenham

25, Oct, 2015 @8:39 PM

Article image
Argentina 15-29 Australia: Rugby World Cup semi-final player ratings
Scott Fardy cut an immense figure for Australia as a hat-trick from Adam Ashley-Cooper saw them past Argentina and into their first Rugby World Cup final appearance for 12 years

Michael Aylwin

25, Oct, 2015 @7:55 PM

Article image
Argentina welcome reunion with Mario Ledesma as Australia await
Argentina’s Marcos Ayerza says his team are looking forward to meeting Australia, whose scrum coach is the former Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma

Paul Rees

20, Oct, 2015 @9:00 PM

Article image
Australia forge bond through search for identity, says Bernard Foley
The Australia coach, Michael Cheika, has asked every member of his squad to trace his family tree in an effort to bind them together at Rugby World Cup

Sean Ingle

14, Oct, 2015 @5:45 PM

David Pocock and Israel Folau return for Australia against Argentina
Australia’s David Pocock and Israel Folau are fit to face Argentina in the Rugby World Cup semi-final on Sunday while James Slipper replaces the injured Scott Sio

Guardian sport

23, Oct, 2015 @1:07 PM

Article image
Gareth Anscombe selection gives Wales attacking twist against Australia
Defences have come to know what to expect from Wales but Warren Gatland has introduced an element of doubt into Rugby World Cup Pool A decider

Paul Rees

09, Oct, 2015 @9:00 PM

Article image
Michael Cheika’s Australia may yet have last laugh at Rugby World Cup
This week the coach will announce his squad for the tournament on the back of a defeat by the All Blacks but with words of praise from counterpart Steve Hansen

Paul Rees

16, Aug, 2015 @4:05 PM

Article image
Michael Cheika’s grand designs give Australia options not issues at Rugby World Cup | Dean Ryan
While Australia have rebuilt swiftly and astutely under their new coach, England still seem to be learning on the job, unsure of their best plan

Dean Ryan

30, Sep, 2015 @11:12 AM