Chile must catch up with Uruguay says Martinez
SPOTLIGHT: Argentina is by a long chalk South America’s rugby number one side but Chile number eight Raimundo Martinez hopes his outfit can catch up with the number two outfit Uruguay “in the next four years.”
Chile round off their maiden appearance at the World Cup in the Pool D match against Argentina on Saturday.
They have played well in patches but few expect them to secure their first point of the tournament against an albeit thusfar sub-par Pumas outfit.
Martinez, though, is aiming for Uruguay come qualifying for the 2027 World Cup even though he concedes Los Teros have a considerable head start on them.
“The next World Cup will be more difficult because United States (also in the qualifiers) will be more prepared,” the 23-year-old said on Tuesday.
“We will have to work hard to qualify.
“The road is going to be very difficult.
“In the next four years I think we should catch up with Uruguay.
“They are eight years ahead of us in their high performance programme.
“Hopefully we will catch up with them in the next four years,” he added.
– ‘Nice to meet you’ –
Martinez says despite three heavy losses – though they held their own for a good part of their opener against Japan – the experience has been invaluable.
“We have learnt from the best teams about the pace and intensity of the play, the quality of the decision making, good habits,” he said.
“When playing against them you think they are going to physically overwhelm you, but the difference is in their good habits.”
Martinez’s solution for them making progress and being better prepared is a familiar one from players and coaches of non tier one teams.
“How do we improve? With experience,” he said.
“We should have played more games against tier one teams.
“In the last five years we have played two games against tier two teams –- Tonga and Romania.
“While playing in the World Cup is spectacular, it is strange, because you don’t know how to process it yet. I’ll analyse it over time.”
Martinez says that he has had a great time facing players who he admires — a case in point being England prop Joe Marler.
“As a boy I studied in England,” said the 23-year-old.
“I was a Joe Marler fan. I met him after the game (England’s 71-0 drubbing last Saturday) and I told him ‘nice to meet you’.
“I should have told Marler that the first podcast I listened to in my life was with him.”
Martinez is hoping he will face another of his heroes on Saturday, 38-year-old hooker Agustin Creevy.
“As a kid I looked up to Agustin Creevy a lot -– he was my role model as I used to play hooker, although like a back-row,” said Martinez.
“Two years later they told me to return to the back-row.
“If Agustin Creevy was Chilean, he would be a loose forward.
“Obviously, it would be nice to play against him.”