IT was 30 years ago in South Africa that the Argentinian rugby team gained its nickname, Pumas. It was the country's first international rugby tour and the emblem on the players' jerseys - a South American jaguarete - was mistaken for a puma. The name stuck and, on Saturday, the Pumas will be back in South Africa for their opening game against England in the third rugby World Cup. Two wins would be enough to secure Argentina a place in the world's top eight but England - reigning Five Nations champions - will be the toughest of Argentina's opponents in the round-robin group stage of the competition. A good result against England would virtually guarantee Argentina a place in the quarter-finals. The Pumas' easier matches come later - against Western Samoa and Italy. The club game in Italy, one of the emerging nations of European rugby, benefitted from an exodus of experienced players from Argentina in the late-'80s. This loss of talent was a severe blow to Argentinian rugby, which prides itself on its amateur status and rules out its exports from international selection. The result has been the emergence of highly-rated youngsters such as 22-year-old fly-half Jose Cilley, who stole the show in his Test debut against South Africa in October last year. The Springboks won the match 46-26, with Cilley, scoring 21 of the Pumas' points. The young fly-half showed great composure as he ran the Pumas' backline, slotting home all six of his shots at goal - four penalties and two conversions - and scoring a try. Another youngster to watch is 21-year-old scrum-half Agustin Pichot, who has been likened to Australian sensation George Gregan by England's coach Les Cusworth. But captain and centre Sebastian Salvat - a veteran of the inaugural 1987 World Cup - said the Pumas would have to draw on their 'historic characteristics' of 'team spirit, tackling, pressure and scrummaging' to win their way into the last eight. Earlier this month, in the second Test against Australia, the Pumas showed the kind of gutsy form that could cause a few surprises in South Africa. In wet, cold conditions, the Pumas played much of the first half inside the Wallabies' territory, with replacement full-back Lisandro Arbuzi scoring the game's first try just before the break. The Pumas led 13-3 going into the second half but, although they kept a tight defence in the second half, the Wallaby forwards began to assert themselves and Australia ran out the winners by 30-13. But the performance against Australia showed that the Pumas' pack is capable of mixing it with the best and Italy, Argentina's last group opponents on June 4, should find them too much of a handful. The crucial game is likely to be against Western Samoa, the surprise package of the 1991 World Cup. Although the Samoans crashed to a 60-8 defeat to South Africa earlier this month, they beat Argentina at the same stage in the last World Cup and followed that up with a win against Wales to earn a berth in the quarter-finals. However, Salvat is optimistic of the Pumas' chances. 'It is not such a remote objective to win two of our matches to be in the top eight in the world.' For the opening game, Salvat said: 'We're working towards a peak and looking to explode against England in Durban . . . they will surely be thinking they have to qualify and will want to peak two or three weeks later than us.'