Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The New Pumas - November 2013 Tour

Daniel Hourcade
The thirty-one man squad named earlier today by Daniel Hourcade featured a number of new faces in comparison to that not only of the 2013 Rugby Championship but also from the corresponding tour of Europe last November. In total there are six players in the squad who missed out on taking to the field in the Rugby Championship this year. 

1. Santiago Cordero
One year ago the name Santiago Cordero was on Santiago Phelan´s list for the tour of Wales, France and Ireland. He did not, however, recieve any game time and was instead just a tourist. He missed out on playing for Argentina against England and Georgia in June due to the IRB Rugby Championship where he performed well for Argentina as he had done in 2012. Cordero has made a name for himself not only at the junior level but also for Argentina in Rugby Sevens. His debut appearance on the Gold Coast of Australia underlined him as a certain Puma of the future. Still only 19 years of age it would appear that Cordero is highly likely to make his test debut in November. He looms as the starting fullback against Italy but, arguably, ought to be in the 23 for the opening fixture against England. His finishing laces him as a strong option when considering that no winger or fullback scored for Los Pumas in the 2013 Rugby Championship. 

2. Javier Rojas 
Like Cordero Rojas is in the team after having played under Hourcade for Los Pampas XV. But unlike Cordero Rojas is capped. Rojas played for Argentina in the 2012 South American Championship but is yet to take the field against a Tier One nation. His selection as an inside centre is therefore of extreme note due to there being no place at all for Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga or Rafael Carballo who both play in France. Rojas is much younger than both and at the age of 22 now has the opportunity of playing himself into contention for a long term place in the squad. Hourcade has used Rojas extensively in the Vodacom Cup.

3 Santiago Iglesias Valdez
Iglesias Valdez is capped, having made his test debut for Argentina in the 2013 Rugby Championship as a hooker. he faces both Chile and Uruguay and did so in the company of other players named today by Hourcade - Pablo Matera, Matíaz Díaz and Tomás Lavanini. All three were used in the Rugby Championship and are retained by Hourcade. The 20 year old is another from Tucumán and like the other squad members from the Pumitas, he featured in the IRB Junior World Championship. Aged eleven years younger than Eusebio Guiñazú and eight years younger than Agustín Creevy Iglesias Valdez is going to be in good company with an eye to player development. 

4. Maximilano Bustos
A casualty of 2012, Maximilano Bustos was in the Pumas squad throughout 2012 but did not make the cut for the 2013 Rugby Championship. The Montpellier tighthead prop has been capped four times. He made his debut last November against Ireland but did not have the best match and was yellow carded for bad sportsmanship after he threw the ball at an opponent. Bustos was the starting tighthead for the June tests against England and Georgia in what was very much an Argentina reserve team. Now with Juan Figallo injured Bustos is up against Matías Díaz and Juan Pablo Orlandi for a place in the squad. Both players were in the Rugby Championship and, like Bustos, they are contracted to professional teams. 

5. Gabriel Ascárate
Mid-fielder Gabriel Ascárate got game time for Los Pumas during the home tests matches in June 2012 and again in June 2013 but has otherwise not been able to break into the senior squad. His ability to play at both inside and outside centre combined with him having been exposed to top flight professional rugby in Scotland has been his profile rise and it has come at an ideal time - midway between Rugby World Cups. The Glasgow Warrior is still very young despite having been around the scene for a number of years. Aged 26 Ascárate has been capped eight times thus far and was on the waiting list as an injury replacement for Rugby World Cup 2011. Prior to playing for Glasgow Ascárate played for French second division side Carcassone and prior to that was a regular starter for Los Pampas XV in the Vodacom Cup. Unlike Santiago Fernández and Marcelo Bosch Ascárate is more of a crash-running mid-fielder.

6. Joaquín Tuculet
Another player well exposed to the training regime of Hourcade is fullback Joaquín Tuculet. The former Sale Sharks and Grenoble outside back is now contracted to Bordeaux-Begles. He made the move to Europe after having impressed for the Hourcade coached Los Pampas XV while hie recent signing for Bordeaux-Begles came after he had capped Los Jaguares to the Americas Rugby Championship title in the Canadian province of British Columbia earlier this month. Hourcade used Tuculet at both fullback and win in Canada while he has also started a test against France at outside centre. Prior to earning his first test cap in 2012 Tuculet played for Argentina at all levels. Still aged only 24 he is a player with plenty to offer Argentina. His last test was in 2012 during the November tour where he faced both Wales and France as a replacement. 

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