Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pampas XV 2012: Five players to watch out for

For the previous two seasons, the Pampas XV has been a great launchpad for many Argentine based players to get a professional contract with teams in Europe. Over the past two years 21 squad members have gone onto get professional contracts.

This season there are not expected to be so many players leaving the Pampas XV as teams in Europe are now more wary of signing Argentine players. But there are a few players in the squad who could be hidden gems and be unearthed in the upcoming Vodacom Cup.

Last year the stars were Juan Imhoff, Maximiliano Bustos, Nicolás Sánchez, Agustín Creevy, Leonardo Senatore, Agustín Gosio and Joaquín Tuculet all of whom got professional contracts in Europe and Bustos, Imhoff, Gosio and Sánchez were all long shots to get in the Pumas World Cup squad at the beginning of last year but they all were named in the final squad on the back of their Pampas XV form.

Here are five players who could catch the eye of big European clubs and the Pumas selectors over the coming campaign.

Bruno Postiglioni
A player moved about massively across the front row, in the recent URBA Top 14 competition he started in all three front row positions and even once at lock. Although versatility is an asset too much of it will hinder his career and he will become Guiñazu take two. He played loosehead prop in last year’s Vodacom Cup, but this year, the selectors seem to be pushing him as a hooker. This tournament will be a big opportunity for him, if he is successful then without a stand out candidate for the Pumas reserve hooker spot this year he will be the lead candidate. He has good pace for a front rower, and memorably went on a 20 metre burst against the Sharks XV in last year’s competition, but his scrummaging with a weaker prop in Juan Gómez rather than Maxi Bustos by his side will be a litmus test, and the selectors will also be keeping an eye out for whether his lineout throwing (a weakness of Agustín Creevy) is up to scratch.

(Video: Bruno Postiglioni's break in the Vodacom Cup semi final, he was running so fast he toppled over in the end! Imhoff scored in the corner after his break thanks to a fantastic offload from Creevy)

Tomás de la Vega
Like Postiglioni, de la Vega also has a good chance of reaching the Pumas side this season. Seen as a genuine openside, something that Argentina haven’t had in recent years, it’s because the Pumas have lacked a genuine openside which is why if he does well in the Vodacom Cup he could be seen as the Pumas answer to the supreme Tri Nations opensides, although maybe not this year. de la Vega will have plenty of competition to start in the Pampas XV side with several members from the Pumas World Cup squad in the side this year.

Martín Landajo
A sniping scrum half, Landajo was very impressive throughout last year’s tournament described as “the quiet spark at the back of the scrum” by South African TV channel Supersport, he scored three tries as well as providing for others. With another good tournament he shouldn’t be ignored for the Pumas, he at least better than Alfredo Lalanne who was very lucky to be selected for the World Cup.

(VideoTwo bits of play which show Martín Landajo's strengths, the first clip is a try against the Welwitchias the second him setting up a try against the Free State Cheetahs in last year's Vodacom Cup)

Santiago González Iglesias
Was rotated with Nicolás Sanchez during last season’s campaign before Sánchez was preferred for the finals. But González Iglesias is like Sánchez a good goal kicker, and the Pampas XV should be able to rely on him throughout the tournament. He should get good competition from Benjamín Madero who has been a part of the Jaguars set up a while. Whilst the Manny Edmonds lookalike González Iglesias is unlikely to win Pumas selection due to the Pumas having depth in the 10 position, this may make European teams more interested in signing him next season.

Manuel Montero
The star of the Pumitas Junior World Cup campaign last year, Montero is full of potential and could be a wildcard selection for the Pumas this year. A tall, strong runner Montero has the same dimensions as France’s Julien Malzieu and looks very much like a young version of him. Montero still has a lot to learn, but definitely could be a star of this year’s tournament and in the future bring some strong running into the Pumas side.

(Video: Manuel Montero at the 2011 Junior Rugby World Cup where he was a star, he has shown great promise so far and a successful Vodacom Cup could make him an outside bet for him to play some part in the Pumas squad this year)


  1. Excellent blog, very informative as always. Keep up the good work!