Juan Martin Hernandez (Gallo Images)
Bagshot - Argentina are better prepared for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against Australia on Sunday than they were when they faced South Africa at the same stage eight years ago, according to veterans of the 2007 team.
Flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, at 33 the elder statesman of the 2015 Pumas, said facing the best southern hemisphere sides annually since 2012 in the Rugby Championship had made a huge difference.
"There is definitely less of a surprise (element). We have played against the Wallabies seven times (in four years) so we do know what we are going to get on Sunday," Fernandez Lobbe told reporters on Saturday.
"In 2007 it was a rarity for us to play against South Africa," he told reporters ahead of the match at Twickenham.
Argentina beat the Springboks 37-25 in Durban three months ago.
"This team has a playing system, the quality and skills to play a game of rugby that is as effective as it was against Ireland the other day," Fernandez Lobbe said.
Centre Juan Martin Hernandez, flyhalf in 2007, said the Pumas were then a more defensive side who pounced on their opponents' mistakes to counter-attack.
"Our conviction is the same, perhaps then we kicked more, we played more on the errors of the other team," he said.
"Our attitude will be the same as then, it's one more match to enjoy and we hope we will enjoy it more than them."
With Australia posing Argentina their biggest challenge yet in the tournament, Hernandez is glad to have Marcelo Bosch outside him in midfield after he missed the quarter-final victory over Ireland due to suspension.
"It's very important for me to have him there... to make the last (defensive) decision," he said.
Captain Agustin Creevy, speaking for the new generation of Pumas, said that what Argentina had gained through their inclusion in the Rugby championship was more rhythm in their game and confidence in how they play.
Coach Daniel Hourcade, who first worked with the Pumas feeder team the Pampas XV, has sought to steer Argentina away from the European game towards the Australian model.
He held the Pumas' training camp before this season's Rugby Championship in Australia and last year learned a lot from close collaboration with then Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, who was sounded out by Argentina before he took charge of the Wallabies a year ago.