England v Argentina: 'The chance for revenge'
SPOTLIGHT: England lock Maro Itoje said he believed Argentina would be motivated by revenge at the World Cup’s third-place playoff on Friday.
Itoje’s side beat the Los Pumas 27-10 in their opening game of the tournament on September 9, when George Ford kicked all of England’s points.
England went on to be knocked out by South Africa in a hard-fought 15-16 defeat in last Saturday’s semifinal, while the Los Pumas were hammered by New Zealand.
“We’re competing for third place at this World Cup, so there’s loads to be motivated about,” Itoje told reporters on Thursday.
“I guess from their point of view we beat them earlier so they will probably want to turn that around.
“It’s going to be a great contest; two teams coming off the back of a loss wanting to get it right,” the forward, who turns 29 on the day of the match, added.
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The Los Pumas have beaten 2003 World Cup winners England just five times in their 26 meetings.
They are aiming to match their best-ever finish of third place in 2007 when they beat France 34-10 in the playoff.
“It’s going to be a battle to see who imposes their game and how,” forwards coach Andres Bordoy said.
“We are lucky to have the chance for revenge for that first match against England that left us with such ugly feelings,” he added.
The last time the Los Pumas reached the third-place playoff was the defeat in 2015 to South Africa.
“We did not give it enough importance,” their No. 8 Facundo Isa told reporters.
“Nowadays, with a different mindset, with coaches who push us to go for that, leaving aside what happened in the semifinals, we are going to go for it in this game,” he added.
Australian Michael Cheika took over the reins of the Pumas in March from former hooker Mario Ledesma.
England said on Thursday they were “disappointed” at World Rugby’s decision to clear Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi of making a racial slur towards England flank Tom Curry during last Saturday’s semifinal.
Following the incident, 25-year-old Curry and his family have received a slew of hateful messages on social media.
“Tom is the innocent party in this respect, he has done nothing wrong and he is the victim of the situation,” Itoje said.
“For him to have this abuse is disgraceful,” he added.
During the week, reports in the British media have claimed England defence coach Kevin Sinfield would leave his position at the end of the World Cup.
The former England rugby league international Sinfield was brought in late last year when Steve Borthwick took over from the sacked Eddie Jones.
“I’ve been in this job nine to 10 months and what I’ve learnt very quickly is that it’s impossible to comment upon every rumour or piece of speculation that has been thrown out,” Borthwick said.
“I’ll make no comment,” the former England captain added.