|Five Pumas will face Fiji with two starting|
2013 was hardly the best year for Argentine rugby as, excluding the South American Championship, Los Pumas won two and lost ten matches. The wins against Georgia and Italy were far from being convincing but on both occassions Argentina was missing a large quantity of senior players.
To fill the void left by a poorly non-existent global calender Santiago Phelan and Daniel Hourcade were both forced to make selections that saw a large number of players getting game time. With Argentina´s players mainly playing in the Northern Hemisphere´s season those involved in the Rugby Championship were forced out of playing for Argentina against England and Georgia in June while in November a number of players were only able to play in two of the three internationals.
It offered up-and-coming players with an opportunity to show their value and push for a permanent place in the senior team. With Marcos Ayerza injured Matíaz Díaz was selected to start against South Africa while Santiago Cordero started against Wales. Both players were reserves in other test matches this year and this was the case despite both having played for Los Pumitas in the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship in France. Joining them were back-rowers Pablo Matera and Facundo Isa who now play professional rugby for the Leicester Tigers and Toulon.
Díaz is also to play professional rugby and do so in New Zealand for the Dunedin based Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders while Cordero has been linked to a move to Stade Français. Their rapid rise is not due to an Argentine crisis or to missing players but simply because they have the qualities of very good players and as sson as 2014 both could come to be regarded as being elite players starting test matches for Argentina ahead of established Pumas.
Díaz will have a chance to show his worth when he starts at tighthead prop against Fiji this Saturday. He will play in a frontrow that has two of the worlds best front-rowers, Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira. Cordero is also to start and has been named at fullback ahead of another notable South African, Willie Le Roux. Joining Cordero in the back-three will be All Blacks Charles Piutau and Frank Halai.
The team will be captained by Springbok leader Jean de Villiers who will join Samoan Gavin Williams in the mid-field and play outside abother Springbok, Patrick Lambie. TJ Perenara will start at scrumhalf and do so ahead of Martín Landajo who is on the bench. In the second-row Flip van der Merwe and Dominic Bird will start with Manuel Carizza covering from the bench while All Black Steven Luatua will join Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen in the back-row. Guillermo Roan who played for Argentina in June will also be on the bench covering prop.