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Jaguares to target Super Rugby play offs

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Jaguares Super Rugby coach Raul Perez has revealed that they are targeting a place in the 2016 Super Rugby play offs even though it will be their debut season.

Traditionally new Super Rugby teams have struggled in their first few seasons and to date no expansion team has made the play offs in their first season.

In terms of reaching the play offs the Cheetahs are the best peforming expansion team but it took them eight years to reach their first play off while the Force and Rebels have never made the knock out phase.

The Buenos Aires based Jaguares start their Super Rugby campaign against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the South African Group and in Africa 2 Conference with the Kings, Lions and the Sharks. If they win the Conference they will be in the play offs.

“We know we have a very good squad but on the other hand we realise it’s our first year in the competition and we’ll have to face many new things,” Perez told Reuters.

“We are very proud that many experts consider us as a potentially strong force in Super Rugby but we must be cognisant of our inexperience and having to play at a much higher level than we are used to, week in and week out. We have to be cautious.

“Reaching the playoffs will be a fantastic outcome for us,” said the 50-year-old former Argentina international, who served as one of the country’s assistant coaches under Daniel Hourcade at last year’s Rugby World Cup.

“I believe we can achieve it because we have a good team but it will be a challenge with all the travel that we face.”

Argentine players will have a tough first couple of years as they will not yet be conditioned for the enormous of travel that comes with being a Super Rugby side and then they will contest the Rugby Championship before an end of year tour to Europe.

“It’s very important for Argentine players to have intense competition and it is a massive boost for those who play and who like rugby in Argentina because we are now going to have a regular diet of a high level of rugby throughout the year,” Perez said.

“It also offers much possibility for the development of our game at all levels.

“The Rugby Championship has already offered us the opportunity to realise what we need to do to improve and as a result we’ve seen more and more players of an international profile come through.”

Of the three new expansion teams in Super Rugby this year – the Kings (South Africa), Sunwolves (Japan) and the Jaguares, the Argentina based team are the best prepared team even though they were only unveiled in mid-December, 72 days before their first match.

“We have been working on this process for a year but getting together as a team has only happened since the start of the year,” Perez said.

“We have worked hard to persuade players to stay in the country rather than go to clubs in Europe.”

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