As a team, Los Pumas are a different animal these days to the one that based its game on a formidable set-piece, aggressive defence and an effective kick-chase.

While the inclusion of props Marcos Ayerza and Ramiro Herrera in the official Rugby World Cup 2015 Dream Team points to the fact those core qualities remain upfront, there is no mistaking the attacking edge that head coach Daniel Hourcade has introduced in his two and a bit years in charge.

Whereas in the past mercurial talents like Felipe Contepomi were the exception rather than the rule, the current side is stacked full of talented ball players willing to chance their arm and take the game to the opposition.

As a result, Los Pumas are serious contenders on the world stage - but playing with smiles on their faces.

Rugby Championship wins over Australia and South Africa on Hourcade’s watch were followed by an appearance in the RWC 2015 semi-finals.

And Contepomi, who coaches Argentina's A team the Jaguars, like Hourcade did before him, is more than happy with the way Los Pumas’ game has evolved.

Attack, attack, attack

“Graham Henry helped us a lot in the mental aspects of our game, he taught us that we have to attack teams when we can and that we have to attack with the same ferocity that we defend. He was a great influence on us. But there are other people like Fabian Galthié and many of the Argentinian players and former players who have helped shape this team as well," Contepomi tells World Rugby TV.

“I think that the main thing Daniel has done is to convince the players to play with a particular style. Not so much the younger ones, because they had been playing like that in the Pampas and in other teams that he coached. But he did well to convince the older ones - people like Juan Martín Hernández, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamón. Once they were on board, the team began to work much better."

High hopes

Having spent years as Argentina’s principal decision maker few men are better placed than the 38-year-old to assess where Los Pumas need to improve to consistently challenge the world’s best and make the next step … an appearance in a Rugby World Cup final.

“I think we have learnt that if we believe in ourselves and have a group of well-trained players then we can play good rugby and go far in competitions. We might not be good enough to win the World Cup yet, for that we need more experience, and more time playing in this style but I think that the World Cup taught us that with effort, dedication and sacrifice, we can challenge the very best,he says.

"Puede que no seamos lo suficientemente buenos para ganar un Mundial aún, pero necesitamos mas experiencia, mas tiempo de jugar este estilo"

Felipe Contepomi

“What Argentina needs to learn is how to turn line breaks into points, we need to be a lot more effective when it comes to finishing off opportunities. I think the team’s done really well at creating opportunities to break the defensive line but we need to transform those into tries. So the next step is being much more clinical in attack.

“I think Argentina´s challenge now is to try to be among the best four at every World Cup and to be in the semi-finals every four years. And to soon be in the final of a World Cup, and hopefully someday win it! That is the big challenge for our rugby and where we want to get to.”