Monday, July 21, 2014

Rugby Championship: Manuel Carizza to miss Opening Matches

Image Rugby 365
Argentina is to prepare for the opening two rounds of the Rugby Championship without the services of first choice second-rower Manuel Carizza. The twenty-nine year old flew from Argentina to South Africa on Sunday via São Paulo. Daniel Hourcade's squad has been preparing for the Rugby Championship without Carizza who returned to Super Rugby duty following the June internationals in which he started all three of Argentina's home matches.      

Despite having started all three tests for Los Pumas last month Carizza did not travel with the squad to Pensacola, Florida. Instead Hourcade's specialist second-rowers were Matías Alemanno, Mariano Galarza and Tomás Lavanini. The same three players now appear certain to be the match-day second-rowers for the two opening rounds of the 204 Rugby Championship.

Argentina will travel to South Africa to play the Springboks in Pretoria on August 16 and host the reverse fixture in Salta on August 23. Preparation for these matches is well underway with Hourcade's squad into its second week of training after returning from Pensacola. The South Americans are to host Top 14 side Grenoble in two matches, the first of which will be in CASI this coming Friday. 

With Carizza having missed the high performance preparation and having landed on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean his involvement in the Rugby Championship will not begin until Argentina travels to Oceania to face New Zealand and Australia in the third and fourth rounds. 

Carizza has been a mainstay in Los Pumas over a long period and was expected to earn his 50th cap this year. Following  the international retirement of Carlos Ignacio Fernández Lobbe and Rimas Alvarez Kairelis in 2008 and 2009 Carizza was the permanent partner of Patricio Albacete in the Argentine second-row. It now appears that neither will take to the field against South Africa. 

Should Hourcade indeed have a desire to select Albacete the time to do so would appear to be now. The reasons for Albecete's non-selection have been well documented with some suggesting his test career is over. Hourcade has said otherwise and that the door remains open. Indeed he recalled Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza last week as the loosehead prop position required reinforcing.

Rather than train with the test squad Carizza is preparing for the opening round of the Currie Cup, South Africa's domestic professional competition. He is to play his first season of Currie Cup rugby for Western Province. The competition begins on August 8. With him mising from the squad the three Pumas second-rowers are now very likely to be joined by Albacete. 

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