Tagged as genuine contenders by their semi-final rivals the Wallabies, Argentina admit their focus is on lifting the Webb Ellis Cup – but not until 2019.
The plucky South Americans have stunned the traditional northern hemisphere superpowers of rugby union to take their place in the semi-finals for just the second time.
And armed with a powerful scrum and a sizzling backline that has produced 24 tries – second only to the all-conquering All Blacks this tournament – they have the Wallabies on high alert.
While coach Daniel Hourcade hasn’t exactly thrown in the towel already ahead of Los Pumas’ elimination semi-final with Australia at Twickenham on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT), he admits a more realistic goal would be to target the 2019 event in Japan.
He expects their inclusion in the Super Rugby competition from next season, as well as the continued development of young stars such as Julian Montoya and Lucas Noguera, will see them primed for a tilt at the trophy in four years time.
“We should have a powerful team within two years,” he said of the expected benefits from Super Rugby.
“When Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Paul Matera, Thomas Lavanini have 30 games per year, and won against strong teams, you’ll have powerful guys.
“Of course we aim to go as far as much as possible in this World Cup, but the goal we have set is 2019.”
Veteran Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell is familiar with the Argentinian backline and believes there are genuine threats across the park – as evidenced in their exhilarating 43-20 win over Ireland to book their semi-final berth.
That victory was highlighted by expansive play and length-of-the-field tries finished expertly by speedy winger Juan Imhoff and fullback Joaquin Tuculet.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika acknowledged Argentina’s new-found love of attacking football, but said the real danger still lay in their traditional strength, the scrum.
“They play with a lot of width but that is set up by a great platform from their scrum,” said Cheika on Monday.
“They’ve been developing their play, they are more expansive with good playmakers and they are able to do all that because they have a good base, the scrum.
“They have been progressing over the past couple of years in a methodical fashion.
“The combat in the forwards in general will be very important.”
Argentina, meanwhile, hope captain Agustin Creevy can overcome a leg injury to lead his team against Australia.
The 21-year-old Montoya, who replaced Creevy at hooker in the win over Ireland, is on standby but hopes his skipper will be ready come gametime.
“He’s the captain, he’s an excellent player, an excellent person – so he’s very influential.
“In my place, I want to do the best for the team. If I must be outside shouting for my team, taking on the water, that’s what I will do.”