|Photo Rodrigo Vergara|
Martín Landajo named at scrumhalf
Los Pumas headcoach Santiago Phelan has confirmed his team for Argentina´s opening fixture of the 2013 Rugby Championship. The starting XV is identical to the lineup posted this morning here on Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023. As reported Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe will not play due to injury but the captaincy has not been handed to the 2012 vice captain Patricio Albacete. Rather Argentina will be led by the soon to turn 36 Felipe Contepomi. The appointment of Contepomi was no doubt influenced by Albacete´s criticism of the UAR in 2012 in which the Toulouse secondrower pressed for improved pay and better training conditions. It also comes with Albacete having been named after overcoming injury concerns that saw him miss out on playing in the warm-up matches against New South Wales.
A lot of talk will now be directed at the selection of two 20 years old in the starting XV. Matías Díaz will start at tighthead prop and Pablo Matera in place of Corcho Fernández Lobbe in the backrow. The selection of Díaz comes ahead of Bath prop Juan Pablo Orlandi and sees Juan Figallo move to loosehead, the position Montpellier has tended to use him predominantly. Matera, on the other hand, gets the call ahead of Julio Farías Cabello who started in the 6 shirt thorughout the 2012 Rugby Championship and subsequently played in the position for London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership. Matera, the IRB Junior World Championship backrower will start together in a backrow featuring Juan Leguizamón and Leonardo Senatore. Also starting in the forwards are Eusebio Guiñazú at hooker and Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza in the secondrow. Carizza retains his position ahead of Mariano Galarza who performed very well in place of Albacate against New South Wales. The other replacement forwards are Creevy, Orlandi, Lobo and Farías Cabello.
The backline has a lot of attacking flair with a back-three featuring Juan Imhoff in place of Horacio Agulla. The change in selection is fundamental to Argentina´s try scoring chances with Imhoff having a higher try scoring rate - Imhoff has scored eleven tries in 14 tests compared to Agulla who has scored 4 tries in 42 tests. Juan Martín Hernández will start at fullback and likely offer a combination of intelligent and counter attacking play from the back. Marcelo Bosch will be the starting outside centre with him joining Felipe Contepomi in the midfield. They will be feed by Nicolás Sánchez who is arguably Argentina´s best goalkicker since Federico Todeschini. Sánchez will play flyhalf outside Martín Landajo who has firmly established himself as the starting scrumhalf with Nicolás Vergallo not selected. Tomás Cubelli will be the replacement scrumhalf while Agulla and Santiago Fernández offer valuable experience as the other replacement backs.
South Africa is yet to confirm its lineup for Saturday´s match at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Below is the official team sheet provided by the UAR.