Monday, July 30, 2012

The Rugby Championship Players to Watch - Manuel Montero

Despite only having made his test debut this year and also only just arriving in the senior set up to be a part of Los Pampas XV, Manuel Montero is in the squad for The Rugby Championship. Known in Argentina as the Panther (la Pantera) Montero´ arrival in Los Pumas completes a quick rise after he debuted for the Argentine under 19 team in 2009. He played for the team for two years as well as playing for the Argentine under 20 team in 2010 and 2011. His performances for the age grade side were noticed and he was selected for the Argentine Rugby Sevens team in 2011. He played for his country in the IRB Junior World Championship two times with his form in the 2012 tournament in Italy seeing his future forever changed. Montero was a star performer, scoring tries, breaking the line and creating tries for his team mates. He was fast tracked into the PladAR set up and named in the Los Pampas XV squad for the Vodacom Cup as a 21 year old in 2012. 

Before playing for Los Pampas XV, however his year began well as he was named in the High Performance program as one of ten fully paid professional players. He had been playing for the Argentine Sevens team but it was surprize to many given his inexperience. Such is the talent of la Pantera that he has already found himself in the test team as a 21 year old. Standing in at 1,93m and weighing 96KG Montero is a large winger for his age by global standards and is a giant by Argentine standards. He is also a fast player and has a good side step. The future is his for the taking. 

Montero made his debut in May in the South American Championship. He played in all three matches, starting the first two and scoring five tries in total including a hat-trick vs Brazil. He was awarded with a place in the Argentine squad for the three test home series against Italy and France. With Santiago Phelan selecting an experimental side, which excluded 24 European based professionals, Montero was given an opportunity of facing Six Nations sides. He came off the bench for Los Pumas against Italy and then went on to start in both tests against France. Argentina were not expected to win these tests due to the large number of missing players but some players played very well. Montero left the series having underlined himself as a player for the future and having left the fans at Córdoba extremely happy. With France leading 20-16 with four minutes remaining, Montero scored in the left corner to give the South Americans the win. 

His immediate future is not certain due to Argentina having a squad with a number of quality wingers. Horacio Agulla, Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Imhoff return from the World Cup to be joined by Martín Bustos Moyano. They are the leading winger options but there is also the possibility of either fullback Lucas González Amorosino or centre Rafael Carballo playing wing. The possibility also exists of Agulla playing centre and it would appear to be a strong one considering Montero has been called up to the squad. He looks certain to recieve some game time in the demanding schedule that is The Rugby Championship due to the high number of matches involved. Beyond 2012, however, Montero appears to be a certainty for Rugby World Cup 2015.

Montero at 2011 IRB Junior World Championship

Argentina vs Brazil 2012

Montero vs France, Córdoba 2012
Week 03: Marcelo Bosch
Week 04: Agustín Creevy
Week 08: Rodrigo Roncero
Week 09: Gonzalo Camacho
Week 11: Horacio Agulla
Week 12: Juan Figallo
Week 14: Tomás Cubelli 
Week 15: Marcos Ayerza
Week 16: Manuel Carizza
Week 19: Alvaro Galindo
Week 26: Manuel Montero
Week 27: Tomás Vallejos

1 comment:

  1. Someone needs to sign this guy.

    Maybe a Super rugby team, Western Force perhaps.