Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The 30 Pumas for Rugby World Cup 2011
The darling of Argentine rugby from France 2007, Juan Martín Hernández has indeed not been selected for Rugby World Cup 2011. He is simply not going to be able to face England in the first match and so has been excluded. Coach, Santiago Phelan, said it was a very hard decision but at the end of the day he had to search for the best for the team as a whole. In place of El Mago is 22 year old Nicolás Sánchez who was a start for Los Pampas XV and will play in the French Top 14 for Bordeaux-Begles after New Zealand 2011. Suggesting he has big-boots to fill is true and he has the opportunity of a lifetime. But Sánchez, who has never played an international match against a team that will play at Rugby World Cup 2011, is to be the second choice flyhalf with Felipe Contepomi wearing the ten shirt and captaining Argentina. Despite being globally considered as a better player at inside centre, Contepomi, will indeed lead the team from pivot.
The biggest surprize of all come at scrumhalf with Phelan leaving out, arguably, Argentina´s best player in this position, Agustín Figuerola. In place of Figuerola is Alfredo Lalanne who played very few matches last season for his English club, London Irish. Lalanne was man of the match for Argentina in the home win vs England in 2009 but other than that has been unable to perform regularly at the required level. He will be used as the reserve scrumhalf in place of Nicolas Vergallo. Elsewhere in the backs first choice outside centre, Gonzalo Tiesi, is under an injury cloud but has been selected nonetheless and should he be unavaliable for the first match of the tournament Argentina will go with either Marcelo Bosch or Agustín Gosio who has been named in the squad despite having no professional experience and has been picked over professional players including Rafael Carballo, Miguel Avramovic and Federico Martín Aramburu.
The selection of Juan Imhoff, amongst others, suggests that Phelan is not a traditionalist at all. He has dropped Lucas Borges and Rafael Carballo who have both scored tries for Los Pumas in recent years but both are significantly older and lack the share pace of Imhoff. He will join what can only be called a new-look back-three with Horacio Agulla being the only survivor from France 2007. The impressive Gonzalo Camacho is likely to start on one wing with Agulla and Imhoff fighting for the other spot. The fullback spot will go to Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga with Lucas González Amorosino being his backup and also an option to start on the wing.
The frontrow is a different story entirely with the frontrow from France 2007 still intact despite all being mid-thirties or higher. Mario Ledesma is back for his fourth Rugby World Cup and has annoucnement his retirement to pursue a career in coaching with Stade Français. Rodrigo Roncero and Martín Scelzo join him in what may well be the oldest frontrow in the history of the Rugby World Cup. The best looseheadprop in England, Marcos Ayerza is also included as are the impressive young duo of Maximilano Bustos and Juan Figallo. Both are seemingly included for the match vs Romania so that Roncero and Scelzo can rest while Ayerza can play on either side of the scrum. Agustín Creevy´s move from the backrow to hooker can only be described as incredible as he has been selected as Argentina´s secnod hooker and will certinalyu push hard to start in the Pumas number 2 shirt. Both Eusebio Guiñazú and Andrés Bordoy have missed out on selection. Both can play either prop or hooker but rather than take either, Phelan has opted to go for two specialist loosehead props, two specialist tighthead props and one who can play on both sides at international level. It is a sign of things to come as Phelan is likely to play with two props on the bench and thus only two backs.
Secondrower Tomas Vallejos Cinalli has never played a full international match for Argentina. The Harlequins secondrower has been a constant performer but has not been amongst the best Argentine players in his position. His selection ahead of Santiago Guzmán and Esteban Lozada is a surprize but seems to be due to his professional experience. So much will depend on Patricio Albacete who is one of the worlds greatest secondrowers and the best Argentina has ever produced. His high workrate and lineout abilities will be crucial if Argentina are to go far in the tournament. He will be responsible for organizing everything in this area and will need solid support from Manuel Carizza and Manuel Galarza in the match day 22.
Two of Argentina´s stars from the Vodacom Cup have been included amongst the backrowers. Julio Farias Cabello and Leonardo Senatore join three French based players and a fourth who played last sesson for Agen. The inclusion of Farias is not so surprizing going on form as his workrate in the Vodacom Cup was outstanding and he was Argentinaá biggest ball carrier vs the CONSUR XV on Saturday. He is also an additional option for the secondrow. Senatore´s selection is in place of Genaro Fessia who has been a regular in Phelan´s teams since he took over from Marcelo Loffreda in early 2008.
Argentina Squad for New Zealand 2011
Agustín Creevy (Montpellier, France)
Mario Ledesma (Clermont, France)
Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England)
Juan Figallo (Montpellier, France)
Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)
Maximilano Bustos (Montpellier, France)
Martín Scelzo (Agen, France)
Patricio Albacete (Toulouse, France)
Manuel Carizza (Biarritz, France)
Mariano Galarza (Unattached)
Tomas Vallejos Cinalli (Harlequins, England)
Alejandro Campos (Unattached)
Julio Farias Cabello (Tucumán R.C)
Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe vice-captain (Toulon, France)
Alvaro Galindo (Racing Metro, France)
Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Lyon OU, France)
Leonardo Senatore (G.E.R)
Alfredo Lalanne (London Irish, England)
Nicolás Vergallo (Toulouse, France)
Felipe Contepomi captain (Stade Français, France)
Nicolás Sánchez (Bordeaux-Begles, France)
Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz, France)
Santi Fernández (Montpellier, France)
Agustín Gosio (Club Newman)
Gonzalo Tiesi (Stade Français, France)
Horacio Agulla (Leicester Tigers, England)
Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Juan Imhoff (Duendes R.C)
Lucas González Amorosino (Montpellier, France)
Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga (Stade Français, France)
Marcadores: Agustín Creevy, Agustín Figuerola, Agustín Gosio, Alfredo Lalanne, Alvaro Galindo, Argentina, Aviva Premiership, Felipe Contepomi, Gonzalo Camacho, Horacio Agulla, Juan Imhoff, Julio Farias Cabello, Leonardo Senatore, Los Pampas XV, Manuel Carizza, Patricio Albacete, Top 14, Vodacom Cup