Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Argentina lineup announced for Italy


In what is going to be the 17th international rugby match between Italy and Argentina, the South American powerhouses are entering the contest with a strong side but a side missing a few key players. Missing players include flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez, Alejandro Campos and Patricio Albacete to injury and Juan Manuel Leguizamon to suspension. Despite these four French based players all being out of the match - and series, Argentina are still entering the match with 10 players from the Top 14. The wingers are both players from the Aviva Premiership, Galarza is the sole player from the Magners League whilst a traditional strength of Los Pumas, the backrow, will have two players who are based in Argentina.

Albacete is out with a broken toe that he suffered in Toulouse's Top 14 victory vs Bourgoin in Grenoble on Saturday. Despite the injury, Albacete played all 80 minutes of the contest. His replacement is the young Mariano Galarza who has been playing this season in Ireland for Leinster. His selection may come as a surprize to some because he has been refered to Pumas regular Esteban Lozada. The match is a tremendous opportunity for Galarza to stake a claim at being selected for next years Rugby World Cup.

In the front row the veteran trio of Roncero, Ledesma and Scelzo will once again pack down as the successful combination from France 2007 continues to defy age and be the first choice for Los Pumas despite Argentina having many other options to these players. Argentina used the trio in their June 2010 international matches and they were most successful in the Buenos Aires test vs France in which Argentina had two props and a hooker on the bench. This option should be set to continue with Argentina selecting only two backs on the bench.

The loss of Leguizamon and Campos makes for a weakened Pumas backrow but despite Racing Metro's backrower, Alvaro Galindo being in the squad Santiago Phelan has opted for two players based in Argentina to work with Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe at the breakdown. Fernandez Lobbe joins the front row as the only surviving forwards from France 2007. Genaro Fessia of Cordoba  has been Argentina's first choice 6 since replacing Galindo in June 2009 and will be joined with Los Jaguares captain from the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship, Miguel De Achaval who will make his test debut for his country. Curiously, De Achaval was offered a professional contract in the Top 14 with Agen this season but turned it down for personal reasons.

Felipe Contepomi will lead the team from flyhalf in the absence of Hernandez. The depth of talent avaliable to Phelan allows him to select in-form Santiago Fernandez of Montpellier at inside centre. Gonzalo Tiesi has been deemed fit to take his place in the side after being on the side lines for Stade Francais through injury. Tiesi and Contepomi are the two backs to remain in the XV from Rugby World Cup 2007. Toulouse's Nicolas Vergallo has been selected at scrumhalf with the former Argentina Sevens trio of Gonzalo Camacho, Lucas González Amorosino and Martin Rodriguez Gurruchaga making up a young back three packed with flair and huge potential for New Zealand 2011.

In the last meeting between the two teams, Argentina won 22-14 in Torino in 1998 with winger Rafael Carballo scoring a sensation try in combination with Hernandez. Carballo has been left out of the team for this weekends clash. Overall, Italy have hosted Argentina for six test matches and they won the first two in 1978 and 1998 but have not won since. This weekends match will be the first match played between the two teams in Verona.

Italy
team yet to be named

Los Pumas
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais, France)
2 Mario Ledesma (Clermont, France)
3 Martín Scelzo (Clermont, France)
4 Manuel Carizza (Biarritz, France)
5 Mariano Galarza (Leinster, Ireland)
6 Genaro Fessia (Cordoba)
7 Miguel De Achaval (Alumni)
8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France)
9 Nicolás Vergallo (Toulouse, France)
10 Felipe Contepomi (Toulon, France)
11 Lucas González Amorosino (Leicester, England)
12 Santiago Fernández (Montpellier, France)
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (Stade Francais, France)
14 Gonzalo Camacho (Harlequins, England)
15 Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga (Stade Francais, France)

Reserves to be announced tommorrow.

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