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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Kirwan tips Pumas
John Kirwan
Kirwan believes the Pumas could surprise Down Under
Argentina will be the surprise package of this year's rugby World Cup, according to Italian coach John Kirwan.

The Pumas have only once gone past the group stages in the four previous tournaments to date, their best result when they reached the quarter-finals four years ago.

But Kirwan believes Argentina remain potential candidates for a place in the semi-finals.

He told the BBC Sport website: "I see New Zealand and England as the two teams to beat, with Australia and France also in contention.

"But people should not overlook Argentina - they're the real wild cards and could easily upset that leading quartet."

France have already been beaten twice in 2003, losing 10-6 and 33-32 in a two-Test series.

And Kirwan tipped the Pumas to cause some other upsets when the tournament begins in 10 October.

They also have that bit of flair that stands them aside from other teams
John Kirwan on Argentina

The former All Black wing said: "I was impressed with how they played against both France and South Africa but I wasn't surprised.

"Argentina are a hard side to knock over. They're well drilled and they have a good coach.

"They maintain that same solid pack they've always had over history and they do the basics very well. But they also have that bit of flair that stands them aside from other teams."

Argentina are in Pool A - dubbed the "pool of death" - and face defending champions Australia, Ireland, Romania and Namibia.

They look set to easily overcome minnows Romania and Namibia, but are likely to need to beat either Australia or Ireland.

Kirwan added: "I think they'll do it. Put it this way, I'm pleased it's a team we won't have to face."

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