Scotland prop Allan Jacobsen knows supremacy up front against Argentina is key to victory tomorrow and progression from World Cup Pool B.
A win for Scotland will be a sixth in a row for Andy Robinson’s men – a feat not achieved since the 1989-90 Grand Slam-winning season – and maintain the record of reaching at least the quarter-finals at every World Cup.
However, familiar foes Argentina must win the match to keep their hopes alive of progressing to the knockout phase.
It is sure to be a physical confrontation between two well acquainted teams – since Scotland were knocked out of the 2007 tournament by the Pumas, the sides have met five times.
Edinburgh loosehead Jacobsen has played in all five fixtures, three of which resulted in victory for Scotland, including the two most recent encounters in Argentina 15 months ago.
Jacobsen, who was 31 yesterday, said: “It feels like one of the biggest games I’ve played for Scotland, playing Argentina in a World Cup – it’s like a cup final in the group.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve played Argentina five times in the last four years.
“Each time whoever’s come out on top up front has gone on to win – there’s no doubt it will be the same on Sunday night.”
Jacobsen will be lining up alongside hooker Ross Ford and tighthead prop Geoff Cross in the front row, with Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray selected at second row and tournament captain Alastair Kellock omitted from the matchday 22, with the versatile Nathan Hines named on the replacements’ bench
Ruaridh Jackson has also been assigned a role after being handed the key fly-half position ahead of Dan Parks.
Parks held the number 10 jersey for the 2-0 Test series win in Argentina in June 2010 and Jackson will be facing the Pumas for the first time in Wellington Regional Stadium.
Jackson, who is set to win his 10th cap, recognises how important the game is and the pivotal role he has to play, but is unfazed.
He said: “I’m not really going to go about the game any differently. There’s evidently going to be a lot of pressure out there as it’s a vital game for us in terms of our campaign but I will be going about it the same way as every week and just hoping it will stand me in good stead and that I will be able to put in as good a performance as possible.”
In explaining his decision to opt for Jackson ahead of Parks, head coach Robinson stressed the 23-year-old Glasgow Warrior’s passing game and reflected on the display in the narrow loss to England in March and the August win over Italy.
Jackson added: “I’ve been picked for trying to get the backs moving, but it’s getting the right balance there.”
The match is anticipated to be a tight affair and the wind in Wellington, at the stadium known locally as the Cake Tin, is expected to have an effect.
Jackson added: “I know the Argentinians are going to put up some high balls.
“We’ve been doing a fair bit of research on what the wind does in the Cake Tin – it’s going to create some havoc in the back field at times.”
Gray maintains Scotland must dictate the style of the game, rather than be drawn into a confrontation by Argentina.
The Glasgow Warriors lock said: “This is the biggest game of my career to date – I’m sure it will be for a few of the boys.
“A massive challenge lies ahead on Sunday and we just can’t wait to get out there.
“The key for us is to keep our composure and play the game we want to play, really take the game to Argentina and not get put into too much of an arm wrestle.
“We want to go out and play. We want to attack the Argentinian defence.”