Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Phelan confirms 26 players for South Africa

Photo: UAR Gonzalo Camacho included
The waiting is almost over - the second edition of the Rugby Championship is now only eleven days away and like in 2012 Argentina will begin by facing the Springboks on the road. The match to be played at Soccer City just outside of Johannesburg on Saturday August 17. The Pumas will leave for the republic after facing the New South Wales Barbarians in the northern Argentine city of Salta this Friday. It is the second of two matches against the Sydney based team which is not called the Waratahs while in Argentina due to stipulations involved in Super Rugby contracts. 

Although Santiago Phelan is yet to confirm the official list of players to face New South Wales he has confirmed who will not. He named a twenty-six man squad to travel to South Africa with the same players being those who will take the field in Salta. While he will not face the Australians Patricio Albacete will travel to South Africa. It is a sign of his progress considering that one year ago Phelan did not take injured players, including Juan Manuel Leguizamón, with him to South Africa. Should he be match-fit he will start with either Manuel Carizza or Mariano Galarza against the Springboks.

The inclusion of Albacete is no real surprize but the non-selecion of Gonzalo Tiesi certainly appears to be so. Tiesi has always been in the starting XV for Argentina under the coaching of Phelan when fit and available. Phelan, however, has opted to not take him across the Atlantic Ocean. It means that either Marcelo Bosch or Horacio Agulla will start at outside centre on August 17. Bosch started in place of Tiesi at Rugby World Cup 2011 and in the 2012 Rugby Championship. Agulla was the starting left winger in both tournaments and was used from the bench as outside centre against Wales in November 2012. On that occassion he proved to be a very useful ball carrier and Argentine was greatly advantaged by having Juan Imhoff start on the left wing. 

Both Agulla and Imhoff are to travel to South Africa but their 2012 Rugby Championship colleague Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga will not. Rodríguez Gurruchaga has been dropped after he had been the starting fullback twelve months ago. In search of more attacking rugby he was replaced by Lucas González Amorosino during the Rugby Championship and then by Juan Martín Hernández in November. The non-selection of Rodríguez Gurruchaga is a strong indication that Hernández is in line to play fullback and not flyhalf against the Springboks. The on-going poll on Argentina 2023 has Sánchez prefered with over 60% of readers having selected Nicolás Sánchez thus far. Voting closes on Thursday. 

The exclusion of Tiesi and Rodríguez Gurruchaga means changes are certain while the two forwards being left in Argentina are Bath prop Juan Pablo Orlandi and Los Pampas XV backrower Benjamín Macome. Orlandi had been on the bench twelve months ago but has now dropped to be the third choice Pumas tighthead prop. Juan Figallo is now likely to have twenty year old Matías Díaz covering him from the bench and there is a real chance of fellow IRB Junior World Championship forward Pablo Matera joining him or starting. Matera is in the squad. 

Pumas for South Africa
Marcos Ayerza (Leicester, England)
Matías Díaz (Tequé)
Juan Figallo (Montpellier, France)
Nahuel Lobo (Newcastle, England)

Agustín Creevy (Worcester, England)
Eusebio Guiñazú (Bath, England)

Patricio Albacete (Toulouse, France)
Manuel Carizza (unattached)
Julio Farías Cabello (Tucumán)
Mariano Galarza (Los Pampas XV)

Juan Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France)
Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Lyon, France)
Pablo Matera (Los Pampas XV)
Leonardo Senatore (Worcester, England)

Tomás Cubelli (Belgrano Athletic)
Martín Landajo (CASI)

Nicolás Sánchez (Bordeaux-Begles, France)

Marcelo Bosch (Saracens, England)
Felipe Contepomi (Newman)
Santiago Fernández (unattached)

Horacio Agulla (Bath, England)
Lucas González Amorosino (unattached)
Gonzalo Camacho (Leicester, England)
Juan Imhoff (Racing Métro, France)

Juan Martín Hernández (Racing Métro, France)
Joaquín Tuculet (unattached)


  1. Shouldn't Lobo be a prop, not a backrow? I think the Planet Rugby site copied your blogpost, as they repeated this mistake..

    Good squad on paper but I think it is going to be one-sided. South Africa looked too strong v Samoa, Pumas were terrible in the first NSW match.

    1. Curious and good to see Planet Rugby reading this. Maybe the site should write an article about the book.

    2. Gonzalo Tiesi and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga both started v NSW but both have been dropped. This should mean a much changed side. Man for man Argentina is as good as South Africa. Tactically not so but with time in the Rugby Championship this ought to change.

  2. Martin Rodriguez is seen only as a 15 by Phelan despite playing most of his rugby at 12 for Stade. I also think he could do a job as a 13 but he just doesnt get a chance. He certainly should be going as a centre option instead of Contepomi who wont make it to 2015.

    Similarly Cabello is a waste of a place as he wont make it to 2015. His place should have been taken by Lavaninni.

  3. Fully agreed with the last post. Both Phelan and Contepomi obviously believe they can go out in blaze of glory. Well, let's hope they have their time in the sun! Future?

  4. I can't see Agulla as a contender for 13 in Phelan's mind. If he was in contention to play there then surely he would have given him a run out there against NSW. Bosch will play 13 barring a surprise. Very surprised Rodriguez is dropped having started the warm ups.