Flyhalf Juan Martín Hernández could be the key figure for Argentina against Namibia in Leicester on Sunday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
Although they are likely to advance to the knockout phase, Argentina have not yet secured a spot in the last eight. Tonga still have a mathematical chance of overtaking them on the Pool C log.
Argentina have been one of the more impressive teams at the tournament, losing only to fellow Rugby Championship side, the All Blacks. By contrast, Namibia have been on the receiving end in all their games, despite playing well in patches. They remain the only participants who've never won a World Cup game.
This fixture has never taken place outside of a World Cup, with Argentina winning both previous encounters at the 2003 and 2007 tournaments. But Los Pumas will need a clinical performance to overcome the Welwitchias, who'll be eager to build on their brave showing against Georgia earlier in the week.
Hernández played inside centre in Argentina's two opening fixtures, but was ruled out of the game against Tonga due to a hamstring injury. Now, in one of 11 changes, the veteran returns to the starting lineup at flyhalf. In him, Argentina have someone who can win a territorial battle with accurate tactical kicking, if Namibia do stay close on the scoreboard.
His expertise and big-match temperament could be paramount among a fairly inexperienced Argentina side.
Namibia have lost the services of former captain Jacques Burger and the leadership responsibilities have been handed to his replacement Rohan Kitshoff. And on Sunday, he'll need his teammates to keep their discipline if they have any chance of running this Pumas outfit close.
HERNÁNDEZ'S STATS THAT MATTER
55 – Test caps
144 – Test points
6 – Test tries
11 – World Cup appearances
HEAD TO HEAD
Argentina 2, Namibia 0
Argentina – 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Santiago Iglesias, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Subs: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Juan Martín Fernandéz Lobbe, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Juan Imhoff.
Namibia – 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Johan Tromp, 13 JC Greyling, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Conrad Marais, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eneill Buitendag, 8 Leneve Damens, 7 Wian Conradie, 6 Rohan Kitshoff (c), 5 Tijuee Uanivi, 4 Janco Venter, 3 Johannes Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Jaco Engels.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Johnny Redelinghuys, 18 Raoul Larson, 19 Renaldo Bothma, 20 Tinus du Plessis, 21 PJ van Lill, 22 Eugene Jantjes, 23 Heinrich Smit.
Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images