Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rugby Championship: Star winger Ruled out of first two matches

Photo UAR
On the eve of departing Buenos Aires Los Pumas have been dealt the unfortunate news that Racing Métro winger Juan Imhoff has been diagnosed with a fracture in the the second metatarsus bone of his right foot. The incident took place in Catamarca this past Saturday in Argentina's Rugby Championship warm-up fixture against Grenoble. The extent of the injury is such that Imhoff will no longer be on the plane to South Africa tomorrow. He is being replaced by centre Jerónimo De la Fuente which firmly suggests a change of plan is to be utilized.  Coincidently De La Fuente plays for Duendes in Rosario, the same club that produced Imhoff. 

Having started and impressed for Argentina against Grenoble in both San Isidro and Catamarca Juan Imhoff was set to start for his country against the Springboks on the right wing. In search of having greater options in attack Los Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade had been preparing for the Rugby Championship by fielding his most dangerous outside backs together.

In both matches against the Top 14 side Imhoff was on the right wing in a back-three trio also featuring Joaquín Tuculet and Manuel Montero. It meant that one of either Bath winger Horacio Agulla or former Leicester, Montpellier and Oyonnax outside back Lucas González Amorosino was to be utilized in the number 23 shirt for the sets in Pretoria and Salta.

The most likely scenario that Hourcade was set to utilize was that of Agulla as the replacement outside back. The reason for this was that Agulla, unlike González Amorosino, also covers outside centre. Hourcade, indeed, started Agulla in the position against Italy last November. With Imhoff injured Agulla could now be set to start the test match and De la Fuente looms as a possibility for the 23 shirt. Alternatively Hourcade could continue his plan for Agulla and have González Amorosino start the test match, therefore having Agulla used as a replacement.

The form shown by Agulla against Grenoble indicated that he is more than deserving of starting the test. As a defender he is considered to be much more reliable than González Amorosino but as an attacker he has never been able to transfer his form from the Aviva Premiership to Los Pumas. Capped 52 times Agulla has started 43 tests, 35 of which has been on the wing. The drought is such that his last test try was in 2010.

The Argentine squad is to depart Buenos Aires at 8:45am on Wednesday local time. The team will fly from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery to Johannesburg via a connection in São Paulo. From Johannesburg the team will travel to Pretoria by bus. 

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