England vs Argentina: Top 5 Los Pumas Players that England Need to Watch Out For in Rugby World Cup Clash - Ruck

England vs Argentina: Top 5 Los Pumas Players that England Need to Watch Out For in Rugby World Cup Clash

England’s 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign kicks off this Saturday, as they take on Argentina to ignite the action in Pool D. Los Pumas come into the competition higher than Steve Borthwick’s side in the World Rugby rankings, as the two nations had polarizing campaigns throughout the Summer.

England had an underwhelming stint in the 2023 Summer Nations Series, with just one win in four matches. Despite being heavily unfavoured heading into the defeat against World Number One ranked Ireland, England also suffered unexpected losses to Wales and Fiji, the latter being England’s first ever defeat to a ‘tier two’ rugby nation.

With just one win recorded, in the return home fixture against Warren Gatland’s Wales, England have sunk down to eighth in the World Rugby rankings. This is a record low they’ve only seen once before, following the pool stage elimination at the home-soil 2015 Rugby World Cup. Meanwhile, Argentina are flying high at sixth in the world rankings, with former Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika at the helm.

The Argentina squad during the National anthems before the Autumn Nations Series Match between England and Argentina at Twickenham Stadium on 6 November 2022. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

Cheika kicked his Pumas side into top gear throughout the Summer, with the highlight being a win over Australia in the 2023 Rugby Championship. Argentina almost upset the Springboks in Johannesburg, with the 22-21 defeat presenting a near miss for the reigning World Champions. Cheika’s side ended their Rugby World Cup warm-ups with a resounding 62-3 victory over Spain, as Los Pumas have their tails up heading into the trip to France.

Fans of the Gallagher Premiership would be familiar with some of Argentina’s top stars, and we’ve picked out five that England fans need to be aware of heading into this Saturday in Marseille.

1. Julian Montoya (Leicester Tigers)

Hooker Julian Montoya is well versed in leadership, and rises to the occasion to wear the armband for his country. He is regarded amongst the best players in the world that don the number two jersey, and is arguably the most instantly recognisable name on Argentina’s team-sheet. Montoya is a man that England Head Coach Steve Borthwick knows all too well from his time at Leicester Tigers.

The hooker was an integral part of the Tigers foundation, that toppled Saracens to win the 2022 Gallagher Premiership. Montoya is set for a re-union with his title-winning teammates this Saturday, as he packs down the front row against Ellis Genge, and with Dan Cole expected to return at tighthead following the injury doubt surrounding Kyle Sinckler. Montoya also has a taste for the try-line, as he scored 10 tries for Leicester last season, in 17 appearances across the Premiership and Champions Cup.

Montoya’s try-scoring efforts continued throughout the latest Rugby Championship, as he added a momentum turning score against Australia. The hooker’s try shortly after half-time gave Los Pumas an early second half boost, which they were able to right out on to for the win, and stun Eddie Jones’ dis-jointed Wallabies. A hooker of the highest calibre, Montoya will bring the best out of Jamie George, as the two front rowers clash in a re-match of the 2022 Premiership Final.

An honourable mention is in order for Argentina’s replacement hooker, as fan favourite Augustine Creevy is set to re-enforce the Pumas pack once Montoya runs out of steam. Creevy became a cult hero at London Irish, and following the collapse of the Exiles, the 38-year-old veteran has found a new home at Sale Sharks, with off-the-bench appearances expected behind Luke Cowan-Dickie.