Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rugby Championship: Argentina Change Five for Wallabies

Image: UAR
Los Pumas Headcoach Daniel Hourcade has made wholesale changes to his team for Saturday's final round Rugby Championship fixture against Australia in Mendoza. In total five out of the fifteen players that started the La Plata test against the All Blacks will not start against the Wallabies. The changes see the surprising exclusion of Marcelo Bosch from the starting lineup while Ramiro Herrera and Tomás Cubelli have also been replaced and will be on the bench. Manuel Montero misses out while Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe returned to Toulon to be with his wife who gave birth to his daughter last week. Two of the starting players named will start for the first time in a Rugby Championship fixture.   

The home test against Australia in Rosario in the final round of the 2012 and 2013 Rugby Championships were decisive. On both occasions Argentina reformed poorly, with Australia completing comfortable wins. Former headcoach Santiago Phelan played largely similar teams to those which had faced the All Blacks the week before which contributed to a tired team being knocked-over. 

Unlike Phelan, Daniel Hourcade, has a history of mixing up selections and rotating squad members in search of keeping players fresh and getting more out of them. His philosophy is focused on an understanding that no individual is above the team and that all members ought to contribute. Such a policy has seen pieces moved during the Rugby Championship but this time he has made bold selections with Argentina searching to break-open the Wallabies.

The test between the teams on Australia's Gold Coast featured a Wallaby scrum which, for periods, avoid being pushed backwards due to it being in an illegally low position. Starting at tighthead prop was Ramiro Herrera who had demolished the Springboks and All Blacks in earlier matches. He was replaced in the second-half by Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro who came on and contributed to the scrum improving. With a shorter stature Australia's strategy no longer worked.

Hourcade has opted to start Tetaz Chaparro who is set to be named as a new arrival at French club, Lyon. He will combine with Marcos Ayerza and Agustín Creevy in the front-row while Bruno Postiglioni and Matías Cortese are to be joined on the bench by Herrera. Matías Alemanno wil continue as the replacement back-rower with Tomás Lavanini and Mariano Galarza again starting.

With back-rower Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe havign left the team for family reasons an altered back-row sees Leonardo Senatore being joined by Benjamín Macome and Rodrigo Báez, the second of whom is to start a Rugby Championship test for the first time. The new-look trio are players well known to Hourcade who is without Pablo Matera, Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Fernández Lobbe, the first choice trio who started the opening two fixtures of the tournament.

Rather than calling home a professional back-rower based in Europe Hourcade has deemed Javier Desio Ortega to be a better player that the likes of Tomás Leonardí and Tomás Vallejoes Cinalli. Both players were utilized under Phelan but Hourcade has a track record of picking Pampas players and, indeed, has not selected either player since replacing Phelan. Desio Ortega will earn his first Rugby Championship cap should he appear from the bench.

Tomás Cubelli's start against the All Blacks was a one-off as Hourcade has returned to Martín Landajo for the Mendoza test. Cubelli is to be the replacement scrumhalf and will be joined by two centres on the bench with Marcelo Bosch and Jerónimo De la Fuente both named. The selection of both players does not come without all bases being covered. 

Nicolás Sánchez and Juan Martín Hernández continue as the 10-12 combination but Bosch's 13 shirt has gone to Horacio Agulla who is to make his second test start at outside centre. With Agulla being Argentina's leading option as a mid-field ball carrier Hourcade will be looking to utilize the Bath back as a battering-ram. Juan Imhoff and Joaquín Tuculet are to start in the back-three with Lucas González Amorosino of the Cardiff Blues joining them. 

Should Tuculet require replacing González Amorosino coud move to fullback while Agulla will act as a back-up option for the wingers. Hernández can play fullback too as he can fly half, the position set to be taken by Bosch should Sánchez need to be replaced. The selection underlines why a number of players have not played at all in 2014 as Gonzalo Tiesi, for instance, had previously been in Argentina's top two outside centre options for almost a decade.

Marcos Ayerza
Leicester, England
Agustín Creevy
Worcester, England
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Lyon, France
Mariano Galarza
Gloucester, England
Tomás Lavanini
Racing Métro, France
Rodrigo Báez
Liceo, Cuyo
Benjamín Macome
Bayonne, France
Leonardo Senatore
Worcester, England
Martín Landajo
Nicolás Sánchez
Toulon, France
Lucas González Amorosino
Cardiff Blues, Wales
Juan Martín Hernández
Toulon, France
Horacio Agulla
Bath, England
Juan Imhoff
Racing Métro, France
Joaquín Tuculet
Matías Cortese
Liceo, Cuyo
Bruno Postiglioni
La Plata, URBA
Ramiro Herrera
Castres, France
Matías Alemanno
La Tablada, Córdoba
Javier Ortega Desio
Estudiantes, Entre Rios
Tomás Cubelli
Belgrano, URBA
Marcelo Bosch
Saracens, England
Jerónimo De La Fuente
Duendes, Rosario

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