England manager Martin Johnson admitted Saturday to concerns about playing Argentina first up in the Rugby World Cup given the South Americans’ record of upsetting the form book.
The Pumas set the 2007 World Cup alight when they beat hosts France in the opening match and went on to beat Scotland in the quarter-finals, before losing to eventual champions South Africa.
England and Argentina meet in Dunedin next Saturday in the opening game of Pool B, which also includes Scotland, Romania and Georgia.
“The secret of World Cups is that you’ve just got to play the next game and not worry about winning the tournament. Next Saturday it’s about beating Argentina,” said Johnson, who captained England to their 2003 World Cup title.
“We’ve played them two or three times over the last few years, won at home but lost over there.
“But they are tough battles and as we start to think about the team for that game over the next few days, we’ll be under no illusion on what a difficult game this will be.”
Against the physical Argentinians, who back themselves with a powerful forward pack, Johnson said England would work on getting the first 10 minutes right, and work in 10 minute blocks from there, but he warned it would not be easy.
“At set piece, breakdown, they’re all over you,” he said.
“They make it very difficult to play against them and they’re very competitive. What they do, they do well and we’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
Argentina are without influential back Juan Martin Hernandez, who has a knee injury and did not make the Cup squad but several other standouts from the 2007 squad remain, including fly-half Felipe Contepomi.
Full-back Lucas Gonazalez Amorosino said they intend to target the newer members of the England team who lack World Cup experience.
“We have to put pressure on these people and upset them,” he said.
“All teams have one error in the backline. It should be a close match. We will try and make less errors.”
Most of the 30-man Argentinian squad play their rugby in Europe, with just five selected from their domestic competition.