Argentina head coach Michael Cheika and his Wales counterpart, Warren Gatland, have started the mind games ahead of their team’s World Cup quarter-final in Marseille on Friday by agreeing who will be the favourites and underdogs in the highly anticipated clash.
Cheika is embracing the underdogs tag for his team and although he did not specifically label Los Pumas as “underdogs”, the 56-year-old made it clear who he feels will head into the fixture as the more favoured opposition.
“We know Wales are favourites and that’s pretty clearly obvious, everyone’s made that point to us bar our Argentine supporters,” said Cheika.
Need something special
“We know that we’re going to have to do something different, something special around the game on Saturday so that we can be competitive with them, but I’m a huge believer in the team, in our team.
“I love the fellas; they’re always together, they’re a very committed team, and I know that they’ll really enjoy this occasion.
“They’ve felt a bit of that expectation of trying to make it through, and I think they’ll really enjoy Saturday and from the work we’ve done, I feel like they’ll feel like they’re ready.”
🗣️ "The forward exchanges will have a big impact on the result while discipline will also be vital but what could prove to be decisive is the breakdown battle." #WALvARG
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) October 13, 2023
Cheika’s comments caught Gatland‘s attention, and he had no problem with his side being labelled as favourites.
“Yeah, absolutely,” said Gatland when told about Cheika’s assertion. “I don’t know where Michael has got that from; he’s probably trying to take some pressure off himself.
“If you read too much, there was plenty of speculation and people predicting we wouldn’t even get out of the group. But we embrace that,” he retorted.
Control things we do
“We can only control the things we do, and we knew what we were doing with the group, and if things change, you have to be comfortable with whatever is thrown at you.
“We haven’t spoken about underdogs or favourites’ tags; we are just going through our own processes and working as hard as we can to make sure the preparation is right for Saturday.”