Cheika plumps for experience in Argentina side to play England

Argentina coach Australian Michael Cheika (right) and hooker Agustin Creevy (JUAN MABROMATA)
Argentina coach Australian Michael Cheika (right) and hooker Agustin Creevy (JUAN MABROMATA)

Argentina coach Michael Cheika named an experienced side to play their World Cup Pool D opener against England in Marseille on Saturday.

Agustín Creevy will play his fourth Rugby World Cup having been named on the bench, with fellow hooker Julian Montoya captaining the run-on XV.

When he takes to the field, Creevy will join Mario Ledesma, Felipe Contepomi and Martin Scelzo as the only Argentines to have played in as many World Cup tournaments.

Nine players in the starting team have World Cup experience.

"We prepared as we always do. We are happy because preparation is more important than the game because it is what we can control," said Cheika who led Australia to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final and to the quarters four years ago when they were knocked out by England.

Team selection, Cheika said, "was difficult, to choose the starting team, because they are all available".

"There was a lot of competition between players. Given the game we imagine it will be, we will have six forwards and two backs in the reserves.

"Our team has many young players that give it energy and demand competition from those who have been around for a long time."

Montoya acknowledged there had been some anxious times in the build-up to this World Cup opener.

"We have been preparing for the game for a long time. Anxiety is there and it would be strange if it wasn’t. We have to be together, focused on the present," Montoya said.

Argentina have lost all three of their previous World Cup pool matches against England: 39-10 in 2019, 13-9 in 2011 and 24-18 in 1995.

And England have only lost five times to Argentina in 25 matches in total, although Los Pumas ran out 30-29 winners at Twickenham last year in their most recent encounter.

Argentina (15-1)

Juan Cruz Mallia; Emiliano Boffelli, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Mateo Carreras; Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera; Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno; Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya (capt), Thomas Gallo

Replacements: Agustín Creevy, Joel Sclavi, Eduardo Bello, Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Pedro Rubiolo, Rodrigo Bruni, Lautaro Bazan Velez, Matías Moroni