sport

Argentina target improvements

Argentina head into The Rugby Championship determined to avoid another fruitless campaign as they aim to gather momentum ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Daniel Hourcade's side lost all six of their matches in 2013 with a negative points difference of 136, but the Pumas coach is confident his side can made an impact against the world's top three this year.

Back-to-back defending champions New Zealand head into the southern hemisphere competition as overwhelming favourites - boasting a remarkable record of 17 successive Test wins - with South Africa and Australia ranked second and third in the world respectively.

Argentina sit a lowly 12th in the rankings but despite their inferior billing, and the fact they are winless in 2014, Hourcade believes the Pumas are in fine shape ahead of their opening showdown in South Africa.

"I think we're well prepared, good in our heads. I have a lot of confidence in the team," the Argentina coach claimed.

Last season's Rugby Championship curtain-raiser saw the Pumas endure a nine-try mauling at the hands of the Springboks and back row Juan Fernandez Lobbe is eager to avoid another embarrassing defeat.

"Obviously, we don't ever want a repeat of what happened last year," Fernandez Lobbe said

"Winning and keeping the ball and defence are key aspects in any rugby match. The team has good attacking ambitions and if we can combine those four aspects I think we can have a good match."

Argentina arrived in Pretoria 10 days early for their tournament opener in a bid to get acclimatised to the 1,200-metre altitude at Loftus Versfeld and Lyon flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon insists their preparation will stand them in good stead.

"Adapting to the altitude is difficult but it gets better all the time," Leguizamon said.

"It's one of the hardest matches of the year, without a doubt, because of the direct game South Africa play looking to subjugate you physically.

"Last year we succumbed which is why the mental factor will be fundamental to pressure them a lot and force them into mistakes."

You can see Argentina take on South Africa in Pretoria live on Sky Sports 3HD from 3:30pm on Saturday