Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pumas Preparation Plagued by Injuries

Photo: UAR Agustín Creevy likely to start at hooker in Mendoza
The second round match in the 2013 Rugby Championship between Argentina and South Africa will take place on Saturday in Mendoza. Argentina has to respond and deliver a competitive performance after failing to do so in the opening fixture. The talk is not about a win but about playing good rugby and doing so with a low error count. The preperation for the fixture, however, has not been ideal as five senior Pumas are in serious doubt for the match with two of them already having been ruled out of the match. 

The UAR has confirmed that neither Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe nor Patricio Albacete will play in the Mendoza test. Fernández Lobbe continues to recover from a calf injury he picked up playing against New South Wales in the second warm-up match against the visiting Australians earlier this month. Fernández Lobbe underwent an MRI scan on Monday which revevaled that he is yet to recover sufficiently and needs at least one more week recovery time. The Pumas captain should therefore return in time to face the All Blacks in Hamilton. Albacete is not likely to play in that fixture though as it was revealed via an MRI scan that he has a torn hamstring and requires three-four weeks recovery time. 

While they remain in contention for places in Mendoza injuries sustained to four other Pumas either against South Africa or New South Wales mean that Argentina could be without six of Phelan´s regular first choice starting lineup for the Mendoza test. Marcos Ayerza has improved and will be tested in contact training and in scrums to determine whether or not he is able to feature. He is recovering from a cartilage fracture. His frontrow colleague Eusebio Guiñazú suffered an ankle injury at Soccer City and will be evaluated to determine his fitness. Also in doubt in the forwards is Manuel Carizza with the secondrower undergoing physiotherapy in an attempt to recover from a sprain suffered in his left shoulder on Saturday. 

Argentina could be without all five forwards and also Juan Martín Hernández. The Racing Métro fullback underwent an MRI scan which confirmed that hs is unlikely to play in Mendoza. He had to leave the match in South Africa in the first half with calf contusion but could recover. It is, however, likely that he will not play as twelve months ago he was also injured in the South African fixture and was replaced by Nicolás Sánchez who started in Mendoza. Phelan justified the resting of Hernández to allow him to fully recover to be able to perform better in subsequent matches. 

Should Phelan opt to get the best out of his players in this tournament then all six could, indeed, miss the Mendoza fixture. Hernández is likely to be replaced at fullback by Lucas González Amorosino while the starting backline will otherwise remain unchanged. The frontrow is likely to see Agustín Creevy named asa the starting hooker with the starting props remaining in the same poositions though Phelan may be tempted to move Juan Figallo back to tighthead prop shoiuld Ayerza be declared fit. This would see either Nahuel Lobo or Juan Pablo Orlandi dropped from the bench with Orlandi being the most likely. Lobo appears set to feature after having been in doubt with a minor injury similar to Juan Manuel Leguizamón. Both, though, are set to be available. Leguizamón is likely to be joined by Pablo Matera and Leonardo Senatore in an unchanged backrow while the secondrow could, see Julio Farías start alongside Mariano Galarza. Should this eventuate then Phelan would need a replacement secondrower with the likely player being 20 year old Tomás Lavanini. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh lord... I have a feeling that these injures were carry overs from the RC last year, coupled with the top 14/EP plus autumn internationals.

    The pumas will be beaten again, but it is how they will get beaten which will/ won't stand them in a good light.

    Personally I don't care. They aren't the team they were a decade ago, where quality front rowers were raining down on them and their confusing tactics always left teams nursing a sore ego, not to mention a sore head.

    I do hope that the UAR start to consider a pro league sooner rather than later!