Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Argentina vs Italy - Pumas team named

Joaquin Tuculet to make his Pumas debut
Los Pumas´ Headcoach, Santiago Phelan has named his team to take on Italy in San Juan on Saturday. The team features many changes to the side from the World Cup with Argentina with only two regulars, captain Felipe Contepomi and loosehead prop, Rodrigo Roncero in the team. Both players are to reture from international duty this year with Roncero only playing this match vs the Italians and the first of two tests vs France before hanging up his boots. His international career is legendary, with him having played in three Rugby World Cup´s and playing 48 tests. Contepomi has played 78 tests including four Rugby World Cup´s and has scored 588 test points. Dr. Felipe will be avaliable for international duty in the November tour of Europe but he will not feature in The Rugby Championship.

Contepomi could well pass the 600 point mark this Saturday as he appears set to take on the goal kicking responsabilities despite having Exeter Chiefs´ Ignacio Mieres in the side. Mieres will form a new look pivot combination with Martín Landajo of Los Pampas XV with both players seemingly having an outside chance of making the Argentine squad for The Rugby Championship. They both appear to be first choice in their respective positions given that three flyhalves - Juan Martín Hernández, Santiago Fernández and Nicolás Sánchez were named in the squad of 24 players as were two scrumhalves - Agustín Figuerola and Nicolás Vergallo. With the impessive Tomás Cubelli on the bench vs Italy it seems Landajo is being given his chance with Cubelli liekly to start vs France, likely against none other than Morgan Parra. Gabriel Ascarate will play outside centre and needs a brilliant performance to be picked for The Rugby Championship while the back three features Joaquin Tuculet on debut at fullback and Agustín Gozio and Belisario Agulla on the wings. Of this trio the most likely to face any of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is Tuculet who had quite a good season in the Aviva Premiership with the Sale Sharks. Gozio joins Contepomi as the only other back to have features in Rugby World Cup 2011. He played one tests, as a replacement vs Georgia.

The forwards feature starts for two veterans of Rugby World Cup 2007,  Eusebio Guiñazú and Esteban Lozada. Neither player made the 2011 squad but are now being given a chance.They will be joined by three forwards from Rugby World Cup 2011 with Julio Farías Cabello, as expected, moving to the secondrow. Genaro Fessia and Leonardo Senatore will start in the backrow with both standing a strong chance of making the squad for The Rugby Championship. After two and a half years out of the Pumas team there is a return for Tomás Leonardí who will play on the side of the scrum. It is likely to be his best shot of impressing given that the young and impressive Tomás de la Vega is on the bench. Joininig Roncero and Guiñazú in the frontrow will be Biarritz´ Francisco Gomez Kodela who had a solid debut season in French rugby and looks likely to make the final squad of 30 for The Rugby Championship.
The match is going to be the 18th time that Argentina and Italy have faced one another in international competition. Los Pumas have a record of eleven wins and five loses while with one match being a draw. It will be the first ever international match played at San Juan´ Estadio del Bicentenario which was constructed for the 2011 Copa America soccer tournament. The venue hosted a non-international exhibition match in 2011 between Los Pumas and a South American combination XV. It is a venue which suits international competition and further boosts the option of Rugby World Cup 2023 being hosted by Argentina.

Argentina
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)
2 Eusebio Guiñazú (Biarritz, France)
3 Francisco Gómez Kodela (Biarritz, France)
4 Esteban Lozada (Agen, France)
5 Julio Farías Cabello (Los Pampas XV)
6 Genaro Fessia (Los Pampas XV)
7 Tomás Leonardi (Los Pampas XV)
8 Leonardo Senatore (Los Pampas XV)
9 Martín Landajo (Los Pampas XV)
10 Ignacio Mieres (Exeter Chiefs, England)
11 Agustín Gosio (London Scottish, England)
12 Felipe Contepomi (Stade Français, France)
13 Gabriel Ascárate (Los Pampas XV)
14 Belisario Agulla (Agen, France)
15 Joaquín Tuculet (Grenoble, France)

Reserves

16 Bruno Postiglioni (Los Pampas XV)
17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Stade Français, France)
18 Benjamín Macome (Los Pampas XV)
19 Tomás De la Vega (Los Pampas XV)
20 Tomás Cubelli (Los Pampas XV)
21 Manuel Montero (Los Pampas XV)
22 Román Miralles (Los Pampas XV)

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