sport

Lobbe unconcerned with rankings

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe insists camaraderie rather than World Cup seedings will inspire Argentina to end a groundbreaking year on a high.

The Pumas' entrance into this season's Rugby Championship has exposed them to heavyweight opposition within an annual tournament for the first time.

And although they finished bottom of the table, they are widely considered to have benefited from the experience.

Vital IRB ranking points are on the line when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, but Fernandez Lobbe insists they are merely a sideshow.

"We're looking forward to this game because it's our last opportunity this year to play together," the captain said.

"We'll try to enjoy it and will put all the hard work of the year into this final 80 minutes.

"We're trying to be relaxed, there's no point being over-anxious about seedings.

"We won't be seeing each other for six months, so this is the chance to enjoy our last game together."

Bad blood has accompanied this fixture in the past and Saturday will be the second time in four years the rivals duel for a place among the second tier of seeds for the World Cup.

Argentina knocked Ireland out of the World Cup in 1999 and 2007, helping to create a degree of ill-feeling between the sides.

Fernandez Lobbe, however, insists the Pumas are now a different team who understand the value of discipline.

"Maybe the rivalry is because we normally play in World Cups in games that are deciders, making the matches more special," he said.

"But we see this as just another game of rugby in which to test ourselves and keep improving.

"We know how important good discipline is if you want to win games. I'm convinced that we're getting better at that.

"Any hostility has gone, it's in the past. We always want to play with 15 on the pitch and give away as few penalties as possible.

"This is a good opportunity to test our discipline.

"Ireland are strong in the pack, they have really strong backs and they like to play a quick game at nine and 10.

"We must be accurate with our discipline because they have a very good kicker.

"It will be an intense game and a good challenge. Dublin is a great place to play rugby and Ireland are a great team."