Friday, October 25, 2013

Americas Weekend Preview - Five Hot Points

Aaron Carpenter could be set to captain Canada from hooker
1. New Puma coach means no player is guaranteed his place
Daniel Hourcade will name a Pumas squad on Tuesday for Argentina´s three test tour of Europe next month. Los Pumas are to face stiff opposition in the form of England, Italy and Wales and with the side having performed so poorly in the previous fixture against Australia earlier this month the pressure is on all players in action for the clubs this weekend to deliver.

Argentina is to have no shortage of players taking to the field in the Aviva Premiership, Rabo Direct Pro 12 and the Top 14. Both players from the Rugby Championship and others who missed out will play and some will make their debuts. Marcelo Bosch was unused last week in his Saracens debut and this weekend will be on the bench as will a debuting  Pablo Matera for Leicester. Agustín Creevy and Mariano Galarza will, play their first Aviva Premiership matches while Santiago Fernández will form a centres combination with former All Black Joe Rokocoko for Bayonne in his first Top14 match for the Basque side. Either of the Scottish based centres Joaquín Domínguez and Gabriel Ascárate could make the squad. Neither will start this weekend though. 

In his time coaching both Los Jaguares and Los Pampas XV Hourcade has been willing to make radical changes from open match to another. There could certainly be some established players in for a surprize come Tuesday as no player can be said to be guaranteed of his place.

2. Canadian captain appears certain to switch to hooker
As argued in August the abundant back-row options that Canada has in 2013 is in stark contrast to those of the front-row. Following the retirement of Pat Riordan Canada is yet to establish a regular first choice hooker but there is an option of moving post Rugby World Cup 2011 captain Aaron Carpenter from number 8 to hooker. Kieran Crowley´s Canadian squad named to face the New Zealand Maori next Saturday features only one hooker. In other words it would be fair to speculate that Carpenter´s inclusion in the squad for the fixture is as a back-rower and a hooker. Carpenter has featured for the Cornish Pirates at hooker previously. 

3. Uruguay travels to Rosario
The Uruguayan test team, Los Teros will play a cross-border match against Argentine city Rosario on Saturday. It is preperation ahead of Uruguay´s home match against Spain next month and is also an important part of getting the side ready for the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification matches against the USA in March. A squad of 38 players was named by Uruguay with the players being a combination of the senior and under 23 variety. The overall make-up of the squad is similar to that which pushed both Canada and the USA in the recently completed Americas Rugby Championship. All players are amateurs based in Uruguay or Argentina.

4. The Worcester Pumas
Bottom of the table Worcester Warriors have a battle emerging to avoid relegation. The task is looking easier now that Ignacio Mieres has been joined by three members of the Pumas squad for the Rugby Championship - Agustín Creevy, Mariano Galarza and Leonardo Senatore. Worcester plays the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday with Senatore the only player not starting. Senatore, like rival back-rower Tomás Leonardí will not feature this weekend. Creevy´s rival for the Pumas 2 shirt, Eusebio Guiñazú will not feature for Bath. 

5. El URBA Top14 Gran Final
The final of the world´s best city competition will take place on Saturday afternoon. Hindú is the odds on favorte based on history. While Hindú has produced more notable test players it has also done what CUBA has never been able to do - win the title. Hindú will be captained by former Puma and European professional Juan Ignacio Gauthier while other players of note are to be other former Pumas Francisco Bosch and Hernán Senillosa as well as 2013 Puma Tomás Lavanini. CUBA will be captained by Lucas Piña and the most notable player is to be 2012 Puma Tomás de La Vega.

Notable players from the clubs include:

Hindú - Horacio Agulla, Santiago Fernández, Tomás Lavanini, Gonzalo Quesada, Lucas Ostiglia and Martín Scelzo.

CUBA - Javier Bernardo, Ignacio Corleto, Tomás de La Vega, Hugo Miguens and Ernesto Ure. 

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