Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rugby Championship: Pumas Squad for New Zealand and Australia

Photo: UAR
Los Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade has named a twenty-eight man squad for the second phase of the 2014 Rugby Championship. Argentina will play away test matches against the All Blacks and Wallabies in New Zealand and Australia and will do so with three players included who are yet to play in the 2014 competition. Hourcade has again decided not to call up any players involved with the professional teams outside of Argentina that were not selected in the initial training squad. Consequently Los Pumas will again be playing without players including Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Matías Díaz, Santiago Fernández and Gonzalo Tiesi.

The narrow loss against South Africa in Salta has not seen Hourcade opting for wholesale changes. To the contrary el huevo has retained all but Pablo Matera who has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rubgy Championship due to a shoulder injury. His loss coincides with the return to fitness of another back-rower, Benjamín Macome who missed the past four tests after breaking his arm against Ireland in Chaco in June.

Macome's inclusion sees the retention of five back-rowers and he will now be in contention to start at number eight against the All Blacks. His return is certain to see Juan Maneul Leguizamón moving to the side of the scrum to wear the 6 shirt vacated by Matera's injury. Either Macome or Leonardo Senatore is therefore likely to start at 8 with the other on the bench. Also in the squad is Rodrigo Báez who is likely to be back-up if required on late notice.

Also back is Juan Imhoff who had been expected to start against South Africa only to get injured in the final warm-up fixture against Grenoble in Catamarca. In his place Horacio Agulla and Lucas González Amorosino started on the right wing in the tests in Pretoria and Salta with Manuel Montero playing on the left. Imhoff's return appears likely to see a new combination with him wearing the 14 shirt and starting a a back-three containing Montero and Joaquín Tuculet.

The third player called-up for the Oceania test matches is hooker Santiago Iglesias Valdez. The 2013 Pumitas captain is one of three hookers in the squad with Hourcade looking to increase his options. It also comes despite Eusebio Guiñazú not having been selected. His international future would therefore appear to be over. 

Los Pumas are to leave for New Zealand on Friday, flying out from Buenos Aires. The team will face the All Blacks on the following Saturday evening (local time) in Napier.  

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