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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Pablo treads Springbok path
Pablo Lemoine
Lemoine has been guided to the World Cup by Nick Mallett
Before packing his bags for Uruguay in preparation for the World Cup, Pablo Lemoine was pulled aside for a final word by former Springbok coach Nick Mallett.

Mallett, who guided South Africa to the 1999 tournament, is now coach at Stade Francais, where Lemoine plays his club rugby.

And he told the Uruguayan prop he did not expect any major upsets during his time down under.

Lemoine told the BBC Sport website: "He didn't offer me any advice but he said he didn't think a small team like Uruguay could do anything against South Africa.

"It would be nice to beat them and then come back and give Nick and I something to talk about. Well, me anyway!"

The chances of Uruguay pulling off such a coup against the 1995 World Cup winners is about as likely as Namibia outwitting defending champions Australia.

The 27-year-old prop, a veteran of the 1999 tournament, knows victory against Georgia is the only viable win in a pool which also includes England and Samoa.

But Lemoine insists Mallett's support at Stade will help him ensure Uruguay do not face the sort of drubbing every lowly-ranked team fears prior to the tournament.

Born: 1/3/75
Position: Prop
Team: Stade Francais
Past World Cups: 1999
Pointless fact: One third of unchanged front row from 1999 tournament

"Nick has helped me a lot this year," he added. "I am really passionate on the field when I play but sometimes that passion leads to yellow cards. If I'm too aggressive I lose the idea of the game.

"But Nick has helped me use it to put my energy into the game.

"He's a good coach and has taught me to go into each game to give my best, which we will do, and try to give a good impression to everyone.

"We don't have worries about losing by big scores. We know the potential England have and we'll try and do better than Romania did [they lost 134-0 two years ago]."

At 1.85m tall and 125 kilos, Lemoine will pose a huge threat to opposition front rows alongside Rodrigo Sanchez and Diego Lamelas, also survivors from the last tournament.

Lemoine said: "We have a lot of experience in the forward pack. We have the same front row and about six of the pack from the last World Cup. I think we can put all that experience onto the field, which will be good for us."

Being outclassed on the field is not the only obstacle the Uruguayans must overcome to reach the finals.

Diego is less like a coach and more a friend
Pablo Lemoine on national coach Diego Ormaechea

The team have struggled to put together the money needed for equipment as well as insurance during their sojourn down under with only limited backing from the International Rugby Board.

Lemoine argues that such financial backing needs to improve if "Uruguay are to make an impact at the next World Cup".

But already things are being turned around under the tutelage of coach Diego Ormaechea, a former stalwart of the national side and the oldest player at the last tournament at the age of 40.

"Diego is less like a coach and more a friend," said Lemoine. "He sorts out all the problems. You just go to him rather than complain about it - whatever it is.

"We don't say 'hey coach we don't have that, that and that'. Being a former player, he is well aware of all the problems we face."

And few problems come bigger than their opener against the Springboks on Saturday 11 October.

Mallett will be sure to be keeping a close eye on proceedings, and one prop in particular.

Links to more Uruguay stories


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