Thursday, June 12, 2014

Top 14: Nahuel Lobo signs new two year deal with Montpellier

Photo UAR
The demand for Argentine front-rowers in France continues. Following the recent successful move of Ramiro Herrera to Castres another young Puma has secured his playing future in the Top 14. Loosehead prop Nahuel Lobo will be remaining at Montpellier and doing so on a fulltime basis. The twenty-two year old has signed a new two year deal to remain at Montpellier, the club he has previously played for on multiple occasions as a medical joker. In agreeing to terms to stay on at Montpellier Lobo will be well prepared for Rugby World Cup 2015, should he be selected. He will, however, not be able to play for the Argentine Super Rugby franchise set to debut in the 2016 season.   

Lobo is currently in Georgia as a member of the Los Jaguares squad set to play in the IRB Tbilisi Cup. He was selected for the Argentine A side and not the Los Pmas squad presently invovled in home test matches against visiting European nations. His exclusion from the Pumas squad raised questions due to first choice loosehead Marcos Ayerza having yet to be selected for the squad for the Rugby Championship.

Lobo was deputy to Ayerza in the post Rodrigo Roncero era. Since the retirement of the former Stade Français powerhouse Lobo has played eight test matches for Argentina. His debut came in November 2012 against France as a second half replacement. All of his nine subsequent appearances have all been from the bench due to him missing out on playing in June tests when Ayerza has been missing. 

For the current test matches Daniel Hourcade is utilizing the services of fringe front-rowers as he searches for the right combination for the World Cup. Argentina will likely take five props which will most likely include two specialists for both tighthead and loosehead and one player who is reliable on either side of the scrum. Ramiro Herrera started together with Lucas Noguera Paz last weekend while Bruno Postiglioni and Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro were the replacements.

All are contenders for the World Cup squad as are the European based Marcos Ayerza, Maximilano Bustos, Juan Figallo, Francisco Gómez Kodela and the New Zealand based Matías Díaz who is back from Super Rugby training in Tucumán. Díaz is likely to face Ireland on Saturday which would see one of the four from Resistencia miss out. Competition for places in the front-row is indeed strong and Hourcade has emphasized his intent on leaving no stone unturned.

The non-selection of Lobo is therfore not a simple case of him being dropped. To the contrary Los Jaguares are to face Georgia a well respected team that has demonstrated an ability to scrum well against all opponents. Argentina is to face Georgia at rugby World Cup 2015 and Lobo is a strong contender to start the test match at loosehead. His involvement with Los Jaguares could therefore very well be strategic with Hourcade looking to better understand the qualities of Pampas XV front-rowers against Ireland and Scotland.

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