Edinburgh Rugby's Emiliano Boffelli and Argentina aim to defy history against New Zealand in World Cup semi-final

Emiliano Boffelli, Scotland’s last remaining link at this Rugby World Cup, will aim to create history for Argentina in Paris on Friday night.

The Edinburgh Rugby talisman will line up for the Pumas at the Stade de France as they look to upset the odds and defeat New Zealand and reach the final for the very first time. Boffelli will be on the wing for Michael Cheika’s team and will assume kicking duties in one of the biggest night’s of the 28-year-old’s career. He has amassed 51 points across four matches for Argentina and will need to be rapier-accurate again if the South Americans are to cause a huge shock.

Argentina lost their opening pool match against England but have won every match since, including clawing back a ten-point deficit against Wales in the quarter-finals to prevail 29-17. Cheika has made one change from the team that won in Marseille last weekend, with Gonzalo Bertranou recalled at scrum-half.

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“I don't think there has been some radical turnaround," said Cheika. “I think we have built from what we have learned, and try to be a bit better at it the next game. I have come to this tournament with different draws at different times. When I say the draw, I mean who you play first, second etc.

Argentina's Emiliano Boffelli goes through his kicking practice ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.Argentina's Emiliano Boffelli goes through his kicking practice ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Argentina's Emiliano Boffelli goes through his kicking practice ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

“I felt like we had a light prep [before England] because we know what our squad looks like. In the build-up we didn't play a lot of games. We knew the first game would be a bit rough from us. We learned a lot because there was a lot of first-time World Cuppers in there.”

Cheika oversaw a famous win for Argentina in Christchurch last year but knows New Zealand normally prevail in such encounters, with the Pumas having only beaten them twice in 36 meetings. “The history is not in our favour, but it is up to us to change that,” added the Australian. “We have a chance to on Friday and we will be ready. When we arrive on the field we will do what we do best.”

His All Black counterpart Ian Foster is reading nothing into history, however. “There are two teams in the semi-final – anyone can win,” he said. “That’s the first mindset both teams have. We are massively respectful of Argentina. We know that they have had a great tournament. We don’t live in the past in terms of results. Rugby World Cup tournaments are really about the present. It’s about the best team on the night. If you go into a World Cup semi-final with any expectation that the past is going to happen again, you have got problems.”

Foster has made two changes to his side following the hard-fought 28-24 quarter-final win over Ireland, with Samuel Whitelock coming into the second row and Mark Telea starting on the left wing. “We’ve been really impressed with Argentina,” added Foster. “We’re playing a team that we know scrap and fight for every little bit of possession. We are going to have to be at our best.”

The match kicks off at 8pm BST at the Stade de France, live on STV, with the winner taking on either South Africa or England in the final a week on Saturday. Regardless of the result, Boffelli will be away from club duty for another week, with a third-place play-off scheduled for the loser on October 27.

Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Bertranou; Gallo, Montoya (c), Gomez Kodela, Petti, Lavanini, Gonzalez, Kremer, Isa. Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Alemanno, Bruni, Bazan Velez, Sanchez, Moroni.

New Zealand: B Barrett; Jordan, Ioane, J Barrett, Telea; Mo'unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Lomax, Whitelock, S Barrett, Frizell, Cane (c), Savea. Replacements: Taukei'aho, Williams, Newell, Retallick, Papalii, Christie, McKenzie, Lienert-Brown.