Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi could not fault his players after their World Cup exit to New Zealand at the quarter-final stage in Auckland.
The centre was in reflective mood as his side bows out of the tournament, happy to look ahead at Argentina’s arrival into next year’s Four Nations.
“We said that we were coming here to grow as a team,” he said after the 33-10 loss on Sunday.
“We had highs and lows and right now it is hard to make an assessment but I think this team has a future with the young players coming through.”
Argentina were very much in the game until the hour mark at Eden Park before tries from Kieran Read and Brad Thorn saw the hosts pull away.
“We played very well for 60 minutes and we have been growing and we will continue to grow,” explained Contempomi.
“Our plan was to play the best possible rugby we could and to give 100 per cent which we did. It is very important for Argentina to reach the quarter-finals, especially this team as it wasn’t easy coming here. I’m very proud of this team.”
Meanwhile, Santiago Phelan admitted he had refused to look beyond the tournament as the prospect of mixing it with the All Blacks, Wallabies and Boks looms large from next year.
“It is something I hadn’t been thinking about before or during the World Cup but needless to say it is going to be very important to us that we play every year against teams of this calibre. It is going to be very hard but Argentine rugby will continue to grow,” said the head coach.
By Adam Kyriacou at Eden Park