Ireland is to play two tests in Argentina and Scotland one. The first test against Ireland is to be played in less than a month. The Irish will have a unique experience of playing in the north-eastern and northern cities of Resistencia and Tucumán. Both cities are cases in point of the ability of Argentina to host a Rugby World Cup as there is an existing market nationwide which the UAR is actively engaging in. Scotland will then play in Córdoba.
Training for the series against the Celtic visitors is underway. A twenty-six man training squad has been preparing for international duty which these domestic based players set to form the basis of Daniel Hourcade's squad to face Ireland and Scotland. The squad will be implemented by returning players from abroad. Individual backs and forwards that are likely to feature are players based in England, France, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa.
A number of players will not face Ireland or Scotland with the largest hit positions likely to be hooker, back-row and outside centre. These same postions have also had a higher concentration of players in the training squad. In the case of outside centre the three leading players in the position will all be missing. The English based trio of Marcelo Bosch, Gonzalo Tiesi and Horacio Agulla will almost certainly be involved in the Rugby Championship. Joaquín Domínguez of Edinburgh could be used as could Joaquín Tuculet of Bordeaux-Begles but Hourcade has in form players from the Pampas XV pushing hard for selection.
A potential move for Bosch to inside centre exists which would mean that Santiago Fernández would be either fly half or outside of the starting lineup. Fernández should, in theory, be in Hourcarde's June squad due to his contract with Bayonne being short term similar to Lucas González Amorosino who has now returned to Argentina as has inside centre Gabriel Ascárate. Fernández joined Bayonne after the 2013 Rugby Championship but now appears set to remain at the club after he was not one of nine players confirmed as leaving the club.
Should Fernández remain at Bayonne then he will not face Ireland or Scotland with his place going to Ascárate, or a Pampas XV player. His loss could be crucial as he is a strong candidate to captain the team in the place of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Patricio Albacete and Julio Farías Cabello. Hourcade has other options including scrum-halves Martín Landajo and Tomás Cubelli who have captained the Pampas XV. Neither, however, has experience as in a professional league abroad. Manuel Carizza of the Stormers could therefore be considered to lead the team in June.
Carizza is likely to be the only foreign based player in his position in the squad and appears to form a second-row combination with the young Tomás Lavanini whose Pampas XV teammate Matías Alemanno offers cover from the bench. At hooker Eusebio Guiñazú is quite likely to be involved due to Agustín Creevy having demonstrated his superiority in the Aviva Premiership this season. With age not on his side and Hourcade having options Guiñazú needs a strong showing.
Either side of hooker Argentina has some exciting options with Nahuel Lobo, Lucas Noguera Paz, Matías Díaz and Ramiro Herrera offering youthful alternatives to Juan Pablo Orlandi and Francisco Goméz Kodela. The absence of Juan Figallo, Marcos Ayerza and Maximilano Bustos will therefore not be as substantial as in previous years. There are also players to turn to in the back-row with Benjamín Macome and Pablo Matera's experience in Europe this season set to offer Hourcade improved and quality players to start ahead of the missing Leguizamón and Fernández Lobbe.
Four of the five experienced members of the back-three will all be out of action. Although González Amorosino could play Horacio Agulla, Juan Martín Hernández, Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Imhoff will be missing. June looms as the chance for Hourcade to utilize both Santiago Cordero and Manuel Montero while Matías Orlando and Tomás Carrió are also strong possibilities for selection.
Possible June Squad
Forwards (17): Lucas Noguera Paz, Matías Díaz, Francisco Goméz Kodela, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Ramiro Herrera, Eusebio Guiñazú, Matías Cortese, Santiago Iglesias Valdez, Manuel Carizza, Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lavanini, Lucas Ponce, Tomás De la Vega, Facundo Isa, Javier Ortega Desio, Benjamín Macome and Pablo Matera
Backs (14): Tomás Cubelli, Martín Landajo, Agustín Figuerola, Benjamín Urdapilleta, Santiago Fernández, Nicolás Sánchez, Gabriel Ascárate, Matías Moroni, Matías Orlando, Manuel Montero, Santiago Cordero, Martín Bustos Moyano, Lucas González Amorosino and Joaquín Tuculet.
Possible Rugby Championship Squad
Forwards (17): Marcos Ayerza, Maximilano Bustos, Juan Figallo, Matías Díaz, Lucas Noguera Paz, Agustín Creevy, Matías Cortese, Santiago Iglesias Valdez, Patricio Albacete, Mariano Galarza, Manuel Carizza, Tomás Lavanini, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Tomás De la Vega, Benjamín Macome and Pablo Matera.
Backs (14): Martín Landajo, Tomás Cubelli, Nicolás Sánchez, Patricio Fernández, Santiago Fernández, Marcelo Bosch, Gonzalo Tiesi, Horacio Agulla, Manuel Montero, Gonzalo Camacho, Juan Imhoff, Joaquín Tuculet, Santiago Cordero and Juan Martín Hernández.
Lucas Noguera Paz
Lince RC, Tucumán
Highlanders, New Zealand
Stormers, South Africa
Hindú Club, Buenos Aires
Tomás De La Vega
CUBA, Buenos Aires
Leicester Tigers, England
Stade Français, France
CASI, Buenos Aires
Pucurá, Buenos Aires
CUBA, Buenos Aires
Martín Bustos Moyano
Regatas, Buenos Aires
Santiago Iglesias Valdez
Francisco Goméz Kodela
La Tablada, Córdoba
L Tennis, Sanitago del Estero
Belgrano, Buenos Aires