|20 year old Pablo Matera could face suspension|
The next few days will be nervous times for Santiago Phelan. The Pumas headcoach has not been able to field his strongest team all year and without his captain, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe he has made forced changes. Saturday´s test in Mendoza was also a match without four other first choice starters as all missed the game while the captain for the day, Felipe Contepomi, was forced from the field early in the second half.
In place of Fernández Lobbe regular first choice backrower Juan Manuel Leguizamón has been joined by Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera in the backrow. The same two players may very well be suspended following complaints from South African captain Jean de Villiers during the match. The video referee looked at replays of incidents involving alleged foul play from Senatore on Eben Etzebeth and Matera on Francois Louw. Having called time off the video referee took his time to evaluate the South African captain´s claims but was not able to give referee Steve Walsh a definitive reason to yellow or red card either Puma.
Criticism has been raised over the handling of the match by Walsh from not only South Africans but also Argentine supporters. While both Senatore and Matera have been reported there was no reporting of any South Africa player. In the Soweto test Gonzalo Camacho was held down and punched in a ruck yet to incident was not spotted nor did it recieve any media coverage. A Pumas supporter was so outraged over this that she wrote a private message regarding the incident. She does not want her identity released but has shown evidence to support her claims.
The manner in which Etzebeth tackled Senatore immediately before the incident in Mendoza was not within the laws of the game. Etzebeth could very clearly have been yellow carded for a dangerous tackle in which he had a hold of Senatore around the neck - an area of the body above shoulder height and therefore entirely illegal. To compound matters Etzebeth was then shown shoving Senatore on the ground on more than one occassion. His response of fury was the latest reason for Etzebeth to be considered one of the dirtiest players in the game. He was banned in 2012 after headbutting Wallaby secondrower Nathan Sharpe in Perth. Curiously the South African comentators called for a yellow card in June when Scotland´s Jim Hamilton pushed Etzebeth in the face in a comparable way to that of Etzebeth against Senatore. Hamilton was indeed yellow carded but Etzebeth has been only defined as a the victim of Senatore´s lawlessness. Etzebeth rubbed salt into the wound by taunting Hamilton as he left the field for ten minutes. Etzebeth was also in trouble for eye gouging against Scotland in 2012.
Senatore has quickly become unpopular with South Africa after he was also in trouble following a tip tackle against the Springboks in Soweto. Should either or both Senatore and Matera be suspended Argentina´s injury crisis would become worse. Fernández Lobbe is set to return for the Hamilton test against the All Blacks while Manuel Carizza is also all but certain to be fit. There remain question marks over Carizza´s secondrow colleague Patricio Albacete but should one be fit then the likely result would be a Pumas backrow of Fernández Lobbe, Leguizamón and Julio Farías Cabello.
Although the video referee could not find any reason to say Senatore or Matera had committed acts of foul play TMO Marshall Kilgore was only able to access the television images available at the time. The citing commissioner, however, declared that both incidents merited red carding and confirmed that there will be a hearing for both incidents at a yet to be determined time in the future. For the time being both players remain in the Pumas squad and availabe to face the All Blacks.
Leonardo Senatore incident
Pablo Matera incident