Thursday, July 24, 2014

Los Pumas: Hourcade shows intent in naming team for Grenoble

Photo UAR
Los Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade has named his team for Friday's friendly match against Grenoble at CASI. In what is to be the first match of the year for those contracted to clubs in England and France Hourcade has named a team likely to be similar to that set to start the Rugby Championship against the Springboks in Pretoria. The only position yet to be made official is inside centre with Juan Martín Hernández having been bracketed with Jerónimo de La Fuente. Argentina will face the Top 14 club in a pre-Rugby Championship warm-up match set to kick-off at 8:10pm local time tomorrow. The sides will meet again in Catamarca next weekend for a second match. 

Set to lead Argentina is hooker Agustín Creevy, a player well known to Hourcade but one that Santiago Phelan did not have faith in. Despite selecting Creevy as the back-up option to Mario Ledesma throughout 2010 and 2011 Phelan opted for Eusebio Guiñazú in 2012 and 2013 thus restricting Creevy to just one test start at hooker. 

Hourcade has made Creevy his captain and considered Guiñazú to be his fourth best hooker at best. With Creevy being a mobile player he has the characteristics which Hourcade is looking for. Guinazú, by way of comparison, is considered as being a prop playing hooker. The search for mobility has seen other casualties with Julio Farías Cabello being a notable player unwanted.

Joining Creevy in the starting front-row will be Lucas Noguera Paz and Ramiro Herrera, two players to have impressed in the IRB Pacific Cup. Herrera is now playing in France while Noguera Paz was the only player to start every match in the competition. In starting Noguera Paz is being tested to see his suitability due to Marcos Ayerza also being in the squad. 

The second-row selection is much different with the same two selected to face Grenoble likely to do so against South Africa. The starting back-row is also arguably Argentina's best combination but there are  also multiple players covering from the bench. Hourcade has gone for Fernández Lobbe at 7 and Matera at 6, the opposite selection to that of Phelan in 2013. 

Martín Landajo starts with Nicolás Sánchez in the halves as expected which sees Tomás Cubelli and Santiago González Iglesias providing cover from the bench. Either Juan Martín Hernández or Jerónimo de La Fuente will play inside centre depending on whether or not Hernández can gain an injury clearance. Should he play he will do so in a new position as Hourcade is in search of a 12 who has the skills of a 10 but the defence requried for the position. 

Marcelo Bosch will play outside centre with de la Fuente having done so in June. Providing cover from the bench will be Sevens player Matías Moroni while Horacio Agulla will be covering both wing and outside centre. Hourcade has opted to start the more dangerous Manuel Montero and Juan Imhoff ahead of Agulla. Such an approach is the opposite to that employed by Phelan. 

Completing the starting lineup will be Joaquín Tuculet at fullback which sees Lucas González Amorosino and Santiago Cordero both out of the team but on the bench. The option of Montero, Imhoff and Tuculet starting together firmly suggests an attacking attitude for the Rugby Championship with more running the ball back and less kicking than was the case under Phelan. 

The side named by Hourcade demonstrates the flaws in Argentina's June internationals being capped. In losing at home against Ireland and Scotland Argentina dropped to 12th in the IRB World Rankings to be behind teams including Fiji and Japan. Over half of the team to start against Grenoble were unable to be considered due to the lack of a global calendar. 

Hourcade has nonetheless not selected a host of professional players across all positions leaving Argentina without a number of players considered to be first choice players at the completion of 2013. There is reason to suggest that some including, amongst others, Patricio Albacete, Benjamín Urdapilleta, Manuel Carizza, Santiago Fernández , Francisco Goméz Kodela and Gonzalo Tiesi could be called up. Marcos Ayerza indeed did so last week. He will not face Grenoble in CASI but is likely to be starting the match in Pretoria. 

1
Lucas Noguera Paz
Lince
Tucumán
2
Agustín Creevy
Worcester
England
3
Ramiro Herrera
Castres
France
4
Mariano Galarza
Gloucester
England
5
Tomás Lavanini
Racing Métro
France
6
Pablo Matera
Leicester
England
7
Juan Fernández Lobbe
Toulon
France
8
Juan Leguizamón
Lyon
France
9
Martín Landajo
CASI
URBA
10
Nicolás Sánchez
Unattached
11
Manuel Montero
Pucurá
URBA
12
Juan Martín Hernández or
Jerónimo de La Fuente
Unattached
Duendes

Rosario
13
Marcelo Bosch
Saracens
England
14
Juan Imhoff
Racing Métro
France
15
Joaquín Tuculet
Unattached
16
Matías Cortese
Liceo
Cuyo
17
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
La Plata
URBA
18
Bruno Postiglioni
La Plata
URBA
19
Matías Alemanno
La Tablada
Córdoba
20
Guido Petti
SIC
URBA
21
Rodrigo Báez
Liceo
Cuyo
22
Javier Ortega Desio
Esudiantes
Entre Rios
23
Leonardo Senatore
Worcester
England
24
Tomás Cubelli
Belgrano
URBA
25
Santiago González Iglesias
Alumni
URBA
26
Matías Moroni
CUBA
URBA
27
Horacio Agulla
Bath
England
26
Lucas González Amorosino
Unattached
27
Santiago Cordero
Regatas
URBA

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