Pumas to take on Springboks in third place play-off

Argentina will be looking to equal their best World Cup finish of third at the 2007 edition. Injuries mean the Pumas too will have a new captain after their 29-15 semi-final loss to Australia.

Veteran lock Victor Matfield will captain the team in probably his last appearance for the Springboks.   -  REUTERS

It might not be the end to the year either side wanted, but Argentina and South Africa have vowed to give their all in the World Cup third-place play-off.

The likes of New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose defending champions will contest the final after beating South Africa 20-18 last weekend, have questioned the worth of Friday's match at London's Olympic Stadium.

And after seeing his side beaten by the All Blacks, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said of the bronze final: "It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister."

But having had a few days to reflect, Meyer — who has named his strongest available side — said, "It is my task to get them in the right frame of mind after the disappointment of last weekend and to ensure we bounce back with a good win after a tough week."

Veteran lock Victor Matfield will captain the team in probably his last appearance for the Springboks.

The 38-year-old Matfield, making his 127th Test appearance, replaces Fourie du Preez as skipper after the scrum-half suffered a tournament-ending injury against New Zealand.

Matfield, a World Cup-winner in 2007, has come in for Lood de Jager in the second row, with Ruan Pienaar taking over from du Preez in the only other change to the starting line-up.

Matfield retired after the 2011 World Cup but returned last year with the Bulls following encouragement from Meyer to resume his career.

Pumas seek follow-up win

Fellow 2007 World Cup-winner du Preez did not even make the bench after suffering a swollen eye and broken tooth against the All Blacks.

Du Preez, also persuaded to return by Meyer, said after the semi-final that it was probably his last Springbok appearance.

De Jager, who started that match, has been struggling with a foot tendon injury. He is now among the replacements, with Rudy Paige the reserve scrum-half following Pienaar's promotion.

In August, Argentina achieved their first victory over South Africa with a 37-25 win in Durban.

"The Pumas have made massive strides in recent years and we've experienced first-hand how tough an opponent they can be," said Meyer, who also presided over the Springboks' shock 34-32 defeat by Japan in their Pool opener — the biggest upset in World Cup history.

Meanwhile, Argentina will be looking to equal their best World Cup finish of third at the 2007 edition.

"Every game means a lot. Every game we are trying to reach the top and it will be fantastic to beat such a great team as South Africa," said Daniel Hourcade, the Argentina coach.

Injuries mean the Pumas too will have a new captain after their 29-15 semi-final loss to Australia.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, the leading points scorer at the World Cup, will skipper Argentina for the first time.

Sanchez, who has 89 points, will take over as captain from injured hooker Agustin Creevy.

Hourcade has made nine changes to the team that started against the Wallabies, most of them enforced, with Creevy, outstanding wing Juan Imhoff and veteran centre Juan Martin Hernandez all replaced on Sunday.

Among Friday's starters, Horacio Agulla and Juan Martţn Fernandez Lobbe started the 2007 bronze final for Argentina, which saw them beat hosts France for the second time in the tournament.

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