|Photo Zimbio: Santiago Cordero playing Rugby Sevens for Argentina|
With Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga now a former Stade Français player the Paris based club has made it clear that it is not only looking for a new mid-fielder to fill the void but is also looking at acquiring a new Argentine player.
Exactly who the new player from Argentina could be remains unconfirmed but there have been strong indications in the French media that it is to be 19 year old Santiago Cordero who made his debut for Argentina off the bench against England on Saturday. His appearance was as an injury enforced replacement after Juan Imhoff was forced out of the match in the first half.
Critics of Imhoff point out that he is not the greatest tackler but while this may be so he is Argentina´s best finisher and performances in 2013 show that it has not been Imhoff but another Argentine winger leaking more tries in the corner. With Imhoff possibly set to be joining Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Martín Hernández on the sidelines the starting back-three against Wales this weekend will be entirely different to that from 2012. With an eye to Rugby World Cup 2015 it is an important opportunity after questions have been raised over the long term viability of Hernández and Horacio Agulla.
Cordero could perhaps be described as a younger version of Imhoff. Both players are from from being stereotypical Pumas wingers. Both are players who excelled at Rugby Sevens and play with a kind of flair simlar to former French international and Stade Français winger Christophe Dominici. Curiously since Dominici stopped playing Stade Français has not been the same. The club last won the Top 14 in 2007 with Dominici playing left wing and being joined by four Pumas - Agustín Pichot, Juan Martín Hernández, Rodrigo Roncero and Pedro Ledesma.
With Rodríguez Gurruchaga also now a former Parisian the club is now home to two uncapped Argentine players - Lisando Gómez López and former Argentina under 20 captain Juan Cruz Guillemáin. Both players could very well be capped by Daniel Hourcade in 2014. Cordero, though, is set to make his run-on debut in place of Imhoff this weekend with Cordero having trained on the left wing on Monday in a back-three featuring Joaquín Tuculet and Horacio Agulla.
The Parisians back-three resources are deep but far from being complete. Paul Williams often finds himself playing in the mid-field with Jérome Porical covering fullback. New arrival and former Wallaby Digby Ioane may well be used at outside centre while the other wingers could quickly find themselves taken over by Cordero. Amongst them are former French international Julien Arias who is now into his thirties, Djibril Camada who has never been able to hold down a starting position firmly and Fijian international Waisea Nayacalevu Vuidravuwalu. In other words should Cordero indeed join Stade Français then he could find himself playing against Imhoff in the Stade Français v Racing Métro derby.
The UAR should have mixed feelings over a move to France. But with Argentina yet to enter Super Rugby and there being few opportunities for Argentine players in the Australian, New Zealand and South African teams Cordero will be making the right decision. Similar to Pablo Matera it is fundamental that there be something for the players in Argentina or a move to a professional team abroad is nothing less than crucial. Like Pumas of the past and those in the team since before the creation of PladAR it is the exposire to top level training and game time that makes players into the kind of world class performers that can finish third in a Rugby World Cup.
In due course the delay in Cordero earning his first cap may well be looked at as being an error. While Santiago Phelan selected him for the November 2012 tour of Europe he did not play. He also missed out on playing for Argentina against Brazil, Chile and Uruguay in the 2013 South American Championship and against England and Georgia in June. Instead he played for Los Pumitas in the IRB Junior World Championship. While not being capped Cordero nonetheless trained with Los Pumas ahead of the Rugby Championship alongside his under 20 teammate and future Puma Patricio Fernández.