Argentina turn to Sanchez to pull strings against France

Nicolas Sanchez (Getty Images)
Nicolas Sanchez (Getty Images)

Tokyo - Argentina have turned to mercurial Stade Francais flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez to pull the strings for Los Pumas' opening Rugby World Cup Pool C match against France on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 09:15 SA time.

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Sanchez has a ream of French experience, having also played for Stade's Top 14 rivals Bordeaux-Begles and Toulon over four seasons before linking up briefly with the Jaguares in Super Rugby.

Argentina will be skippered by marauding flank Pablo Matera in a strong-looking pack that sees Saracens' Juan Figallo starting at tighthead prop.

The third player in Argentina's 31-man squad attached to a club outside the South American country is also included, as coach Mario Ledesma named goal-kicking Castres playmaker Benjamin Urdapilleta on the bench.

The rest of the match-day team play for the Jaguares, who made it to the Super Rugby final in July, going down 19-3 to the Crusaders.

The team that takes its chances will prevail in what is expected to be a tight game with "two good defences," said head coach Mario Ledesma.

"France has changed the way they defend. They defend very high up and leave little space," he said.

"I think the key will be unlocking this defence and the kicking game will play an important part," added Ledesma, who has a close link to France, having been based there as a player and a coach.

"The mental aspect will be important. To be able to do what you want to do."

Saturday's clash in Tokyo will go a long way to determining the fate of Pool C, dubbed the "group of death" as it also includes in-form England.

Matera said the match was quite simply "the most important game of our lives."

Teams:

France

15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Virimi Vakatawa, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot

Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Thomas Ramos

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Santiago Carreras

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