Preview: England v Argentina

England have beaten Argentina nine times in a row, a run that stretches back over a decade.

England have beaten Argentina nine times in a row, a run that stretches back over a decade.

The formbook suggests Eddie Jones’ side should make it ten on the spin on Saturday in Chofu – do that and the Red Rose’s passage to the quarter-finals is guaranteed.

But in a World Cup that has already had its fair share of thrills and spills, England will need to be at their brutal best for this crunch Pool C clash.

After all, these are cornered Pumas, playing for their World Cup lives.

The South Americans have made the knockout stages in each of the last three tournaments, including a run to the semi-finals four years ago in England.

But after their narrow loss to France on the opening weekend, defeat on Saturday would effectively end their stay in Japan.

England have a full squad of 31 to pick from and, after a ten-day gap since their last outing, are itching to rip back into action.

The preparations have been perfect, including two bonus-point wins over Tonga and USA.

But make no mistake, the real business starts here. So back comes the George Ford-Owen Farrell-Manu Tuilagi midfield trio while the Kamikaze Kids Sam Underhill and Tom Curry are back in tandem in the back row.

Throw in the returning power and poise of Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell on the bench, and England should have too much for Mario Ledesma’s side who have just a solitary Test win this calendar year.

Ledesma has also sprung a couple of surprises in selection, erstwhile talisman Nicolas Sanchez now can’t get in their 23 with Benjamin Urdapilleta handed the keys to No.10 while Agustin Creevy has to settle for a bench spot behind hat-trick hero Julian Montoya.

Victory puts England in the quarters, defeat throws their pool wide open with France lying in wait.

But if Jones’ side maintain realistic ambitions of winning it all this autumn, then the Pumas should be seen off with a minimum fuss, as they have been every other time over the last ten years.

England v Argentina, Tokyo Stadium, Chofu, Saturday October 5, Kick-off 9:00AM (BST)

England head coach Eddie Jones: “We have prepared well for the game and physically we are in the best position we have been in. We were absolutely flying (in training).

“Mentally I think we are in a good position and we can’t be seduced by Argentina’s state. We know Argentina play with a lot of pride and a lot of passion and that will be multiplied by the fact they are in a game that is very important to them. So that allows us to try and take away their strengths – it is pretty clear how they will play by the side they have picked – and then try and attack their weaknesses.

“When you play against Argentina, they base their game on the scrum so it’s a test of manlihood so you have to take them on up front. To beat Argentina you have to take them on up front – scrum, maul, ruck attack, ruck defence. That’s where it will be won.”

Are Jones’ side ready for the big boys? “100%. We have worked hard on it, on creating training situations to equip the players for it. Working hard off the field to handle situations well. It’s a bit like a tea bag isn’t it? You don’t know how good it is until you put it in hot water.”

Pumas fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta: “I don’t want to use the word lose, but this is a crucial game with lots of pressure. We should use this as motivation. If we put in a very good performance, it will make for an amazing game.”

Pumas full-back Emiliano Boffelli, who missed a potentially game-winning penalty in their opener against France: “I am looking forward to the game. I feel no pressure about this game. We want to show what Argentina rugby is all about.

“I don’t have any regrets, I am confident about myself. I have forgotten what happened against France. If there is a penalty, it depends where it is awarded, but I would put my hand up (to take it).”

Maro Itoje has played less than three hundred minutes of Test rugby this calendar year.

Injury curtailed his Guinness Six Nations and he has gradually worked his way back into the fold this summer.

But he will be straining at the leash on Saturday, ready to take on Argentina who are the only Tier One side he has yet to face in the international arena.

The battle on Saturday will be won up front, and Itoje was the standout in England’s forwards a fortnight ago in their opening win over Tonga.

But his opponent this week is Guido Petti, a powerful lock and the heartbeat of the Puma pack who has looked equally impressive so far this World Cup.

Both have all-round skillsets matched by few in the world game, and both relish the niggle that forward battles present. Expect sparks to fly in Chofu on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.

Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matas Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Toms Cubelli; 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julian Montoya, 3 Juan Figallo, 4 Guido Petti, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Javier Ortega Desio.

Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Lucas Mensa, 23 Bautista Delguy