Phelan selected a squad of 17 forwards and 13 backs for Rugby World Cup 2011. The squad included five props but only two hookers and had Gonzalo Tiesi as the only specialist centre. Phelan said in the interview that the coaching staff are wanting Los Pumas to continue playing a style of rugby that maintains the bases of Argentine rugby: good attainment (and) scrum, but we think we have players to develop a more dynamic game. But it is very dangerous to try to play an entrirely dynamic style of rugby because we are not accustomes to it. We need to go about it bit by bit.
With this in mind it is fear to assume that Argentina are going to play a more open brand of rugby. A style the South Americans only really played when they were losing matches at the World Cup. When Argentina were in control of matches or losing by small margins the game plan was far from being running rugby. In the match vs England, for instance, Argentina showed significantly more flair in the later minutes of play following England´s try which gave the Europeans the lead. Perhaps Argentina are going to try to play more this way in 2012. The overwhelming factor preventing Pumas teams from playing an expansive brand of rugby has been the players lack of time together. Pumas players and coaches have traditionally had the short end of the stick in this regard. When Argentina defeated England in 2006 some of the players only arrived in London on Tuesday despite the match being played on Saturday and being the first of three November internationals that year.
This seasons Aviva Premiership and Top 14 Orange have seen Argentine players shine in most positions. Phelan and co can be confident that adopting a more dynamic brand of rugby can not only work but that it is already hapenning to a number of Pumas players abroad. Argentina´s traditional forward strength continues with players performing well in the tightfive. The backrow is, oddly, the area in which Argentina has its fewest number of professionals playing reguarly. However Juan Fernández Lobbe´s injury has enabled Leonardo Senatore to play for Toulon. While Juan Leguizamón is playing a lot for Lyon. Where it is really interesting, however, is in the backline with Pumas playing scoring a higher than normal ratio of tries and, in general, playing to a high standard.
Just exactly who the 35 will be appears to be not such a difficult task considering that of the 30 players from New Zealand 2011 only two will no longer play for Argentina - Mario Ledesma and Martín Scelzo. It is probable that the remaining 28 will almost all be retained and the remaining seven places taken up by newcomers and players returning from injury. The seven spots are likely to be distributed to different positions with Martín Bustos Moyano and Juan Martín Hernández being certainties for wing and flyhalf probably in place of Nicolás Sánchez. Ignacio Mieres also looks to have the better of Sánchez on form as does Joaquín Tuculet in comparison to Agustín Gosio. Juan Orlandi may return in place of Scelzo and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro could be included too. Andres Bordoy appears more like than Eusebio Guiñazú to be used as a hooker and Matias Corteze may well be third choice. Esteban Lozada looms as being included if Phelan opts to have five secondrowers while Alvaro Galindo should return after missing the World Cup through injury. Agustín Figuerola and Alfredo Lalanne are both likely to be included and used behind Nicolás Vergallo.
The options avaliable to Phelan are also cross-positional with a number of players proving to be capable of perfoming well abroad in multiple positions. Marcelo Bosch has been effective at both 13 and 10 for Biarritz, Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga has looked better at 12 than 15 for Stade Français and Juan Imhoff has proven to be outstanding not only on the wing but also at fullback. Felipe Contepomi´s form, should it continue will see him play 10 with Juan Martín Hernández at best playing fullback unless he is able to improve his performances. A concern remains of Tiesi and Vergallo with neither player reciving substantial game time so far this season. Horacio Agulla could well be used at outside center as a makeshift player given the back-three alternatives of Lucas González Amorosino, Martín Bustos Moyano, Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Imhoff with all playing well and meriting places in the starting lineup. This would mean Bosch and Agulla would be given preference to Tiesi and would also allow for two speedsters on the bench should Agulla start on the wing and be shifted to the midfield during a match.
Possible Squad of 35 for The Rugby Championship
Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England)
Maximilano Bustos (Montpellier, France)
Juan Figallo (Montpellier, France)
Juan Orlandi (Racing Métro, France)
Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)
Andres Bordoy (Pau, France)
Matias Corteze (Gloucester, England)
Agustín Creevy (Montpellier, France)
Patricio Albacete (Toulouse, France)
Manuel Carizza (Biarrtiz, France)
Mariano Galarza (Los Pampas XV)
Tomas Vallejos Cinalli (Harlequins, England)
Alejandro Campos (Los Pampas XV)
Julio Farías Cabello (Los Pampas XV)
Tomás de la Vega (Los Pampas XV)
Alvaro Galindo (Racing Métro, France)
Juan Leguizamón (Lyon, France)
Juan Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France)
Leonardo Senatore (Toulon, France)
Agustín Figuerola (Brive, France)
Alfredo Lalanne (London Scottish, England)
Nicolás Vergallo (Toulouse, France)
Felipe Contepomi (Stade Français, France)
Juan Martín Hernández (Racing Métro, France)
Ignacio Mieres (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz, France)
Santiago Fernández (Montpellier, France)
Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga (Stade Français, France)
Gonzalo Tiesi (Stade Français, France)
Horacio Agulla (Leicester Tigers, England)
Lucas González Amorosino (Montpellier, France)Martín Bustos Moyano (Montpellier, France)
Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Juan Imhoff (Racing Métro, France)
Joaquín Tuculet (Sale Sharks, England)