|Photo UAR: Figallo and Creevy celebrate defeating Wales in 2012|
Argentina was blown a massive blow earlier today when captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe was forced from the field with a fractured elbow in Toulon´s 13-12 away defeat against Toulouse. The injury has come at a vital time following the resignation of Santiago Phelan and sees new coach Daniel Hourcade faced with a monumental decision.
The player who led the coup d´etat which saw Phelan exit was Patricio Albacete. No player has been in the squad longer than Albacete. With Felipe Contepomi now retired the only two survivors from Rugby World Cup 2003 are Albacete and Juan Martín Hernández. They debuted together against Paraguay in 2003 and both players are amongst the most notable Pumas players today just as they were in 2007 and both have realistic chances of being in the squad for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Hernández is playing fullback for Argentina, a position far from being ideal to captain a test team. He also lacks experience previously as a leader. Albacete, in contrast, has captained Toulouse previously. Aged 32 and with 55 test caps Albacete is the ideal player to captain Argentina in the November internationals. But due to off-field reasons the appointment woulld be a bombshell. Had Albacete acted differently he would already be named as captain on stand-by but now there is a notable issue that Daniel Hourcade must resolve - if not Albacete then who.
At this point in time there are no clear candidates. As coach of Los Pampas XV Hourcade has utilized Agustín Creevy, Julio Farías Cabello and Mariano Galarza as some of his captains. All three are in the frame for places in Hourcade´s squad which will be named on Tuesday. Of them all the best choice would likely be Creevy but this would entail a Chris Robshaw like naming due to the Worcester Warriors hooker having been outside of the starting lineup during the Phelan era. Should Hourcade name Creevy then Eusebio Guiñazú would lose his position. Farías Cabello is set to retire while Galarza is still re-establishing himself after an injury dominated 2012.
In addition to the previous Pampas captains there are some veteran players who could be considered such as Marcos Ayerza, Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Horacio Agulla but none of them would appear to have the characteristics required to lead Los Pumas. One player who does is Juan Figallo who is sidelined though injury. Without Fernández Lobbe, Figallo and Albacete as options the list is paper thin unless Hourcade goes for Creevy. This, however, would appear that Phelan was wrong to overlook Creevy throughout the post Mario Ledesma era. Unless a miracle can see Fernández Lobbe recover Creevy would appear to be the next captain.