Thursday, July 31, 2014

Los Pumas: Hourcade Shows his cards for South Africa

Créditos: Rodrigo Vergara - UAR
Los Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade has provided a solid preview of who he intended to start against South Africa in the opening round of the Rugby Championship in sixteen days time. The team he has named to face Grenoble in Catamarca on Saturday features just two changes from the team that played in last Friday's match against the same opposition at CASI. The two changes made see Marcos Ayerza and Jerónimo de La Fuente replacing Lucas Noguera Paz and the injured Juan Martín Hernández in the starting fifteen.    

The team named to face Grenoble is identical to that which trained together on Monday. With it also containing thirteen of the fifteen players who started in the earlier match against Grenoble the team set to face the Springboks in Pretoria on August 16 appears to have all but been finalized - it will see fourteen of the fifteen starting in Catamarca also doing so in the Rugby Championship with the one change seeing a fit Juan Martín Hernández slot in at inside centre.  

The two changes for Catamarca consequently do not reflect experimentation whatsoever. To the contrary Marcos Ayerza has replaced Lucas Noguera Paz because it is, indeed, going to be he and not Noguera Paz starting against the Springboks in the loosehead position. The selection of Jerónimo de La Fuente at inside centre is due to Hernández being rested and not risked. 

The starting formation against South Africa will therefore almost surely see Agustín Creevy captaining the side from hooker and doing so with Ayerza and Ramiro Herrera in the front-row. Behind them Mariano Galarza and Tomás Lavanini will form the starting second-row combination while the back-row will see Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Pablo Matera playing on the side of the scrum and Juan Manuel Leguizamón playing number eight. 

The starting forwards are therefore all going to be European based players of whom six were not available to face Ireland and Scotland in the June Internationals. The starting back line will see many more involved from June. Martín Landajo and Nicolás Sánchez are to be retained in the halves with Hernández and Marcelo Bosch  starting in the mid-field and Hourcade's back-three is set to see Juan Imhoff, Manuel Montero and Joaquín Tuculet starting. 

The mid-field and back-three combinations are therefore to be new. Never before have Juan Martín Hernádnez and Marcelo Bosch played together in a test match in the centres. They have start together previously at 10 and 12, 10 and 13 and 15 and 13 but never as 12 and 13. Hourcade believes that they will be solid in defence together and create greater opportunities for the back-three which has clearly been picked based on attack.

The master plan of Hernández moving to inside centre explains the composition of Hourcade's squad as he is seeking for two play-makers together in positions which can great rather than finish off opportunities. Outside he is seeking to have his best finishers on the park which is precisely why it is Montero and not Horacio Agulla or Lucas González Amorosino starting.

Either Agulla or González Amorosino is set to be on the bench for Pretoria with Agulla likely to be the option due to his ability to also cover outside centre. Covering inside centre and fly half is to be Santiago González Iglesias while Tomás Cubelli will be deputy to Landajo at scrumhalf. The replacement forwards are less clear with the exception of Noguera Paz and Matiás Cortese who are to cover loosehead prop and hooker.

The reserve tighthead prop looms as being Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro while Matías Alemanno looms as the reserve second-rower. Their selection will come despite Super Rugby players Manuel Carizza and Matías Díaz both having been involved in the June test matches. The final position on the bench could be taken by any of Rodrigo Báez, Javier Desio Ortega, Tomás de La Vega or Leonardo Senatore. Saturday's match could see one confirming himself as the reserve back-rower.

Overall the side set to be used against the Springboks is vastly different to that which played under Santiago Phelan in the 2013 Rugby Championship. Herrera's selection is due to Argenitna's two leading tighthead props being injured but Creevy is there on selection. Galarza and Lavanini were reserves under Phelan as were Imhoff and Tuculet. 

1
Marcos Ayerza
2
Agustín Creevy (c)
3
Ramiro Herrera
4
Mariano Galarza
5
Tomás Lavanini
6
Pablo Matera
7
Juan Fernández Lobbe
8
Juan Leguizamón
9
Martín Landajo
10
Nicolás Sánchez
11
Manuel Montero
12
Jerónimo de La Fuente
13
Marcelo Bosch
14
Juan Imhoff
15
Joaquín Tuculet

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