|19 year old Pumitas backrower Pablo Matera selected for Los Pumas|
The recently completed international series in which Argentina faced England and Georgia saw a very understrength side take to the field and fail to perform to the required level. The result is that Argentina lost its two matches against England badly. Argentina was without twenty-one players who were rested ahead of the Rugby Championship. The same twenty-one players are confirmed in the squad and are to be joined by nine other players who were named today by Santiago Phelan.
The list includes some surprizes notably the inclusion of two players from Argentina´s under 20 side which finished sixth in the just completed 2013 IRB Junior World Championship in France. The 130KG 20 year old Matías Diaz from Mendoza has been named in the squad. He was part of a very good frontrow in the IRB Junior World Championship and will be joined by Pablo Matera who is coming off two very successful seasons at junior level for Argentina. The selection of these two players sees some more familiar names excluded from the list for the Rugby Championship. Matera has been picked but none of Tomás De La Vega, Tomás Leonardí or Alvaro Galindo have. Instead Matera and Benjamin Macome have been named as the backrowers to join the trio of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Leonardo Senatore. Similarly Diaz is in while others of note are out. He joins Marcos Ayerza, Juan Figallo, Juan Pablo Orlandi and Nahuel Lobo to be the squads fifth prop. Neither Maximilano Bustos nor Francisco Gomez Kodela have been selected.
Also joining the twenty-one players rested are some other senior players, of whom are more familiar but, there are, nonetheless, more surprizes. The promising young scrumhalf duo of Tomás Cubelli and Martín Landajo have both been named but there is no place for Nicolás Vergallo. The exclusion of both Leonardí and Vergallo would appear to suggest that it is due to their participation in Super Rugby with the Southern Kings and not their actual form. As such, both should be added to the squad subsequently. The performances of the three scumhalves for Argentina in June would suggest that the November 2012 selection of Cubelli and Landajo ahead of Vergallo should continue.
The other backs included are entirely expceted. Centre Gonzalo Tiesi has been named in the training squad despite having left the field wth a rib injury against Georgia on Saturday. He is expected to recieve plenty of game tim for Argentina in 2013 and remains the only specialist outside centre in the thirty man squad. In his place Argentina fielded Marcelo Bosch, Joaquín Tuculet and Horacio Agulla at times in 2013 but the regular position of all players is not outside centre. Bosch is likely to be used more at 12 this year while veteran and former captain Felipe Contepomi is another pushing to play in the same position. Contepomi has been selected as one of two veterans from the June test matches. The other being Julio Farías Cabello who would appear to now be in the frame as a secondrower rather than a backrower. Of the thirty players traveling to Pensacola only Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza and Mariano Galarza are specialist secondrowers. Galarza is, therefore, likely to be in a two way race wth Farías Cabello to be the replacement secondrower for the opening match against South Africa at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
While Matera and Díaz have earned test call ups there is no place for either Patricio Fernández or Santiago Cordero. No doubt both will be Pumas and, sooner rather than later. But they play in positions in which Argentina is loaded with talent already. Fernández, for instance is up against Nicolás Sánchez, Felipe Contepomi, Marcelo Bosch and Santiago Fernández while Cordero has Juan Martín Hernández, Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga, Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino ahead of him.
The thirty man squad will travel to Pensalcola, Florida this Wednesday for a fitness program aimed at getting all tha players into top shape for the Rugby Championship. Upon returning there will be a two match series between Los Pumas and the Sydney based Suerp Rugby franchise the New South Wales Waratahs at yet to be confirmed locations. The matches wll take place in August, similar to the two matches against Stade Français in 2012. Tucumán and Buenos Aires are rumoured as being the frontrunners to host the matches.