|Photo: UAR Tomás Leonardí, Pumas super-sub in The Rugby Championship|
As reported earlier this month 25 year old Argentine international backrower, Tomás Leonardí is to be the third Pumas player to join the new South African Super Rugby team, the Southern Kings. The 14 time capped Puma will be playing in a Tier One competition for the first time in his career. The franchise has already confirmed the arrivals of scumhalf Nicolás Vergallo from Toulouse and Argentina´s starting hooker Eusebio Guiñazú. The Kings is based in Port Elizabeth and the city´s newspaper, the PE Herald has confirmed that an announcement will be made public on Monday with Tomás Leonardí set to be officially a King.
Leonardí´s involvement with the team will come after three campaigns of Vodacom Cup rugby in South Africa with Los Pampas XV. He was selected for Argentina at a young age to fill the boots of Juan Manuel Leguizamón who was injured and missed the Novemebr 2009 European tour. Leonardí made his test debut to open the tour by starting in the backrow against England. The following weekend he started again, this time against Wales. His lattest test appearance was also against Wales in Argentina´s 26-12 victory last weekend. He had to wait until 2012 to face Tier One opposition again, however as he missed out on selection for Rugby World Cup 2011. His return was impressive against Italy in San Juan in June 2012 and performances against France in the following weeks sealed his place in the squad for the Rugby Championship where he played in all six matches as a replacement.
More Pumas players may be set to follow. One who was targetted is secondrower Manuel Carizza who instead otped to return to France to link up with Racing Métro.