Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Argentina likely to field new fullback against Italy in November

Photo: ESPN Scrum Santiago Cordero looms as the ideal player for the Italian Job
Argentina´s 30 man squad for the 2013 Rugby Championship featured two fullbacks - Juan Martín Hernández and Lucas González Amorosino. If fit both players will all but certainly be in the squad for the November internationals in which Argentina will face England, Italy and Wales. 

Of the three tests the one against Italy is deemed to be the simplest of the three and the one in which Argentina has the greatest chance of winning. For this reason the chances of Argentina giving a test start to a player who was not in the squad for the Rugby Championship are most likely to occur only in the test match in Rome next month. 

With Hernández having left the field early on Sunday after picking up an injury against Clermont Auvergne in a Heineken Cup match his participation in the tour has become in doubt. The Racing Métro veteran missed training today and yesterday as his club is preparing to face Welsh region the Scarlets this coming weekend. Hernández is expected to return for Top 14 duty the following weekend but will need to undergo a fitness test beforehand. 

With Hernández now in the twilight of his career it is not realistic for him to play all three November internationals. Hie club, Racing Métro, certainly would not be happy with such a situation which suggests that the starting fullback against Italy will need to be a different player. González Amorosino meanwhile has ruled himself out of facing Italy due to his new club, Oyonnax, having a match against powerhouses Toulouse on the same day. He will, however be free to face both England and Wales should Santiago Phelan wish to select him.

Argentina has a number of other options such as Martín Bustos Moyano who was Argentina´s fullback for the June internationals in Argentina. Another is Joaquín Tuculet who has played for the Sale Sharks and Grenoble previously and today will captain Los Jaguares in a non-capped match against Uruguay in Canada as part of the Americas Rugby Championship. Stade Français´ Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga could also be used as could regular winger Horacio Agulla who has previously played fullback and did so throughout the 2009 season. 

All players are capped and have played for Argentina in the fullback position either as a starter or replacement during the Phelan era. One player to have made Phelan´s squad last November but who remains uncapped is Santiago Cordero. The 19 year old has impressed in Argentine colors in the IRB World Sevens Series and the IRB Junior World Championship. While he was not a part of the squad for the Rugby Championship he alongside fellow Pumita Patricio Fernández did train with the senior squad. 

Base on his performances to date for Argentina it would be a logical conclusion to suggest that Cordero ought to make the squad this November and indeed be the starting fullback for the match in Italy and even against England. The former of other players in the position during the Rugby Championship does not imply that any single player holds comand over the position and with Hernández under a injury cloud it would be a ideal opportunity to debut Cordero. González Amorosino should debut this weekend for Oyonnax against Biarritz in the Amlin Challenge Cup. He has been registered as a player for the European competition and depending on form could be rewarded with a start against England.  


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