|Photo Zimbio: Mariano Galarza was an improver in the Rugby Championship|
Argentina fielded a total of five players in the second-row position during the 2013 Rugby Championship. It was a change from the 2012 tournament when there were no injuries to players in the position which saw Manuel Carizza and Patricio Albacete start every match. In 2012 Santiago Phelan opted to have no specialist second-rower on the bench for much of the tournament but did have Tomás Vallejos Cinalli as a replacement against New Zealand in the La Plata test match.
In 2013 the squad was changed as injuiries had a significant impact on the starting and replacement second-rowers throughout the tournament. Carizza and Albacete started and ended the tournament as the first choice combination but in between hand there were injury motivated alterations with Julio Farías Cabello, Mariano Galarza and Tomáz Lavanini all being used in some capacity.
Patricio Albacete 8/10
The tournament was not the most memorable for Albacete due to the Toulouse veteran having injury complications which saw him leave the field in the opening match in Soweto early in the first half. He had picked up a hamstring complication facing the New South Wales Waratahs in a warm-up fixture but was deemed fit to start against South Africa. He was not and would miss the following three matches through injury and his loss was substantial with Argentina having been in winnable situations in Mendoza and Perth. Albacete´s leadership and rugby abilities were certainly missed. Upon returning Albacete made an instant impact and was named by Planet Rugby in the team of the week for his performance against New Zealand. The following week against Australia Albacete was amongst the few Pumas to play well but did miss a tackle which saw Australia score a try. In the two final round matches Albacete added ball-carrying skills that had not been seen by the other Pumas second-rowers in the competition.
Manuel Carizza 6/10
Having had a superb couple of seasons together with Albacete the 2013 Rugby Championship loomed as seeing a continuation of the established Pumas second-row. It did not eventuate however as Carizza´s only start with Albacete was in the opening fixture. Carizza was injured against South Africa in Soweto and missed the Mendoza test. He would return in time for the remaining fixtures and started with Farías Cabello in the away tests against the All Blacks and Wallabies. With Albacete fit for the home tests it was Carizza rather than Farías Cabello who was benched. Despite not being first choice Carizza nonetheless played very well but lacked the same opportunities of 2010-2012. He will play Super Rugby next season for the Stormers.
Julio Farías Cabello 6/10
The soon to retire converted second-rower recieved plenty of game time in the tournament and did so as a first choice player. With Pablo Matera having been selected to the Pumas side Farías Cabello found himself on the bench for the opening fixture. He entered the game early in place of the injured Albacete and started the remaining matches in the second-row. In the Mendoza test Farías Cabello started with Mariano Galarza and was used as the front line-out jumper.In securing plenty of ball and having a good match in general the Tucumán forward was named by Planet Rugby in the Rugby Championship team of the week. Phelan maintained the veteran for the rest of the fixtures. A missed tackle on Dan Carter in the Hamilton test saw the All Blacks turn the match. Farías Cabello will retire after the November tour of England, Italy and Wales.
Mariano Galarza 7/10
While Farías Cabello´s career is coming to a close the career of Mariano Galarza is just getting started. Having been in the Pumas squad for the 2008 tour of Europe Galarza has beena round for quite some time but Phelan has opted to use other players until now. Galarza has the height to succeed and his workrate in the Mendoza test saw him fit in well. Considering the reputation of his teammates Galarza cam out of the tournament better than how he had entered it. With him having joined Aviva Premiership side the Worcester Warriors a platform exists for him to kick-on and push for a regular starting position. With two years to go before the World Cup there is reason to believe that Argentina will have quality players in the position.
Called up to replace Albacete, the Pumita and future Super Rugby player for the Chiefs, Tomás Lavanini was given several minutes of game time as a replacement for the home test against South Africa. Little can be concluded about his contribution or form due to the limited opportunities he recieved. His name should be on the list to travel to Europe this November. Already Lavanini has overtaken capped secondrowers with Esteban Lozada facing a mountain to return to the team.
2013 Pumas Player Ratings
Prop and Hooker