|Pablo Matera and Juan Manuel Leguizamón|
He may only be 20 years of age but Pablo Matera has quickly established himself as a leading back-rower in Argentine rugby. With Julio Farías Cabello being too old to be considered a serious possibility for Rugby World Cup 2015 the rise of Matera has come at an appropriate time. The Buenos Aires product found himself starting on the side of the scrum in a back-row that featured European contracted professionals Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Leonardo Senatore.
Matera found himself starting in placed of captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe due to the Heineken Cup champion having ben ruled out of the opening rounds of the rugby championship due to injury. The call-up saw Farías Cabello named on the bench and therefore represented a notable change in personal from head coach Santiago Phelan. The former Puma has been known to select his teams in a conservative manner with ther having been numerous instances of young up and coming players of note being used as a replacement to an established player who is, at the time, not playing at the same level.
Matera´s performances for Argentina in the two tests against South Africa were of note.His workrate was high in general. As a ball carrier he produced good go-forward ball and as a defender he was also very solid. The Pumita proved to be competitive at the breakdown too with him giving South Africa a difficult time. Indeed, Matera´s ability to slowdown play through entirely legal means frustrated the Springboks and he was caled out by captain Jean de villiers for having eye-gouged Francois Louw while clearing out a ruck. de villies convinced referee Steve walsh that an illegal act had taken place and Walsh asked the video refereee for confirmation. Nothing was found but the incident as deemed inconclusive and Matera had to defend himself in front of a SANZAr Judicial hearing on Wednesday.
Matera came out of the trial innocent and is free to travel with the Pumas squad to Oceania. Also reported was Senatore whose fate remains unknown. Should he be cleared it is likely that he will lose his place in the starting back-row with Fernández Lobbe. It would also appear that Matera is a player with many years ahead of him as a professional and international player. For now, he remains based in Argentina but could be very well suited to Super Rugby and is clearly better than many starting back-rowers involved in the SANZAR competition.