Comments from Argentina coach Michael Cheika, full-back Martín Bogado and prop Joel Sclavi on Tuesday ahead of their Pool D game against Japan on Sunday, 8 October.
Michael Cheika, head coach
On the current week:
“The planning is that of a regular week. We had two days of recovery and we started today (Tuesday). We already analysed the game with Chile. We know what improvements we have to make.
“We are clear about our preparation, our way of playing and also the particular things we have to prepare for the Japanese team.
“It's a normal week, important of course. We are ready."
On the possibility that Sunday's game could be his last as coach of Los Pumas
“It's not in my head. Just now and it's your fault [laughing with the journalist]. I am part of a team that I love very much.”
On the learnings from the Chile game:
“We have to be more consistent with our game. There were good moments against Chile, then moments when the focus was not there. We have to make the good moments more consistent; I know we can’t do it for 80 minutes because we are playing against a strong opponent.
“But at the same time, we need to have the focus more consistently. It’s not that we have to change anything in particular, just consistency with our good times.
“There are things that are not easily seen like pressurising when we kick deep and in defence. Players were not happy when Chile scored their two tries - one of which was disallowed. That's important to us. We train our defence very much, with a lot of work, sweat and effort. I believe that work without the ball is not easily visible from the stands and that they are fundamental aspects of our game: always working, always in position. Those are the foundations of our game.”
On the possible line-up to face Japan
“At this moment, I am happy that our 33 players already had moments on the court. This way, as coaches we can better evaluate the team we can field against Japan.
“As always it is very competitive. I'm not answering the question but, as always, it is the work of the week, and looking back at what happened on Sunday [against Chile]. These three days of training, today, tomorrow and Thursday, are the opportunity for everyone to play themselves in the team. Today, Tomás Lavanini returns to training.”
On the possibility of Nicolás Sánchez playing:
“We are very lucky to have two number 10s; one who played 100 games with Los Pumas [Sánchez] and Santi [Carreras], a player for the future. They are working a lot together; we seek for them together to reach the highest level they can achieve.
“They are players who offer different things in a game. We look at how they spend the week and how we want the game to develop. We will choose one of the two.
“Nico’s first game [of the World Cup] was something very nice because it was his 100th game. With us, he is at his best level.”
On winger Juan Imhoff's fitness
"He is doing well. He has already passed HIA 2 and needs to do HIA 3. He has 12 days before he can play again so he will not be available this week.”
On Japan's difficulty in countering the kicking game:
“It is not what we have seen, we do not see it as a problem [Japan have]. Everyone has their opinion. We focus on what we can bring to the game as opposed to what Japan can do, a very-well-trained team that has worked very, very hard.
“It's not something I would take advantage of.
“They are more than capable of challenging us in every area. We have to challenge them in every area as well.
“Japan is a very competitive team in every area, with an attack and defence system that is very different from other teams.
"They have been working with Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown, who are very good coaches that I respect a lot.
“Japan, as we already said, was in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup and we were not. We are very hungry to be in that position. We know about the bad taste of not being there and we really want to be there. We will do our best to be ready."
On what the game means:
“For us, [it is key] having clarity is the small difference to be ready and we know that this match, as we said, is a final. It is our third week in this situation, in which we are very comfortable. We know that it can be decided in the 80th minute and we have to be prepared for that.
“On the field, it is time to enjoy. These situations are the best for rugby players.”
“Knowing Japan, I love being there, it's a great place. Lomano Lemeki [full-back] is a friend, a great guy. I’ve been talking to him about this game for almost a year and I know how much he wants to play in it.”
On the impact of no longer playing Super Rugby:
“Some years have already passed without Jaguars [since 2020]. It's a different situation to have players in one country instead of several. This year, coaches visited Europe twice, we had a training camp in March and we tried to stay in touch with the players as much as we could.”
“One of the most important things is managing the workload in a 12-month season because there are no idle moments. We were able to give them rest periods and also work hard. I think we have had a very good plan, I don't know if it will be sustainable every year due to players’ commitments, but for this year we had good preparation and I feel that we are very connected, very clear as a team.”
On the team's progress:
“We are making good progress. When I arrived in Argentina in 2022, there were things we wanted to improve to be able to compete with better teams, I think we are doing that. The plan set out in these four weeks shows that there are things that we need to improve, such as our consistency to be at a very good level every day and clearly on match day.
“Consistency is the difference between a good and great team. How to be better every day.”
Martín Bogado, full-back (pictured)
On his World Cup debut:
"I felt very well; the older players helped me and gave peace and confidence at all times. That reflects the way with which one can play.
“Because of how it happened, because of the game that it was, because of Nico's 100th game, these are moments that I will never forget in my life.”
About his first try in a Rugby World Cup:
“We certainly feel the support of the Argentine fan and we feel very, very grateful for that. One thinks quickly of family.
“I am very happy for the try, for the team's performance and already looking forward to what this week is going to be like.”
About raising your hand to be eligible:
“You always want to compete both in training and on the field to cast doubts on the coaches. Day by day, we are all raising the bar so that when they have to make the decision, whoever they choose, we will all be happy. In the end, what we want is for Los Pumas to win.”
Joel Sclavi, prop
On how he felt on Saturday:
“Thank God the rib didn't bother me at all so I was able to play my normal game. Happy with the victory, with what we worked on during the week and what we were able to do on the field.”
On which side of the scrum he prefers:
“It's not the same [playing as a loose-head prop, like against Chile], but thanks to the preparation work during the week, you don't feel the difference.
“I'm happy to have played on the left, I felt much more comfortable than the other times. But the important thing is to play, it doesn't matter if on the right or left.”
On raising your hand to be picked:
“All 33 of us are raising our hands all the time. The training sessions are getting better and better. There is enormous competition, it is getting better.
About Los Pumas’ scrum so far:
“Little by little, we are improving the set-pieces. In the first game we didn't know how to exploit the extra player, which made us work harder and more focused during the week; little by little it is coming together. Both the scrum and the maul, which was a weapon that we had not been using, we are slowly developing.”
On the Japan scrum:
“They have good set-pieces. Like all World Cup games, the team that wins the scrum and the maul, and also the ruck, wins the game.”