Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rugby Championship: Pumas Change Three for All Blacks

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Image: UAR
Los Pumas Headcoach Daniel Hourcade has made three changes to his lineup for Saturday's home international against the world champion All Blacks in La Plata. A combination of injuries and form has seen alternations made to the team which is in search of a history making victory against New Zealand. despite being the fifth round of a six round competition the fixture is to be just the second hom match for the South Americans. The previous home match saw Argentina beaten late in the match 33-31 by South Africa in Salta. The Springboks are to all be in action on Saturday, hosting the Wallabies at Cape Town. 

The task of becoming the first team to defeat New Zealand since 2012 has seen Daniel Hourcade adjust his team slightly. Missing from the side that pushed Australia two weeks ago on the Gold Coast is star back-rower Juan Manuel Leguizamón who was ruled out of the Rugby Championship through injury. His next rugby match is now to be in France for his Top 14 club Lyon.

Replacing Leguizamón in the starting lineup is not Rodrigo Báez, who had been the specialist replacement against the Wallabies, but Benjamín Macome. In looking to have greater ball-carrying abilities Hourcade will start Macome together with Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Leonardo Senatore. All three are natural number 8s but it is Macome who has the best potential at breaking the line.

Prior to the start of the international season Macome had been suggested as being a likely starter in the Rugby Championship at the back of he scrum. he, however, was forced to sit out the opening matches after breaking his arm against Ireland in Resistencia in June. Missing against the Irish and Scottish that month were Fernández Lobbe, Leguizamón, Senatore and Pablo Matera who, like Leguizamón, is injured.

Joinig Macome in the changed starting lineup will be scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli and second-rower Tomás Lavanini. Cubelli replaces Martín Landajo in an effort to have a more penetrating playing in the nine shirt. Cubelli scored a try from the bench in Salta and also proved to be highly influential in the away tests in Napier and the Gold Coast.

Cubelli is the only change to the backline whch sees Juan Martín Hernández and Marcelo Bosch playing their first ever tes together in the centres in Greater Buenos Aires while the attacking back-thre of Juan Imhoff, Joaquín Tuculet and Manuel Montero will be looking to continue their form that has seen Argentina ofering notably more on attack than was the case under former coach Santiago Phelan.

One of Phelan's regular wingers, Horacio Agulla, is to be Argentina's replacement outside back against the All Blacks. Having played tests on both wings in addition to outside centre and fullback, Agulla is set to be a genuine utility replacement. Santiago González Iglesias is the other replacement back and will be covering both fly half and inside centre.

Lavanini returns in place of Matías Alemanno who returns to the bench. Consequently the starting second-row will be the same as that in Napier with Lavanini joining Mariano Galarza who, like Senatore and Hernández, has recovered from a minor injury picked-up against the Wallabies. The team is thus close to being at full strength. Missing are injured players Leguizamón and Matera in addition to Gabriel Ascárate, Maximilano Bustos, Gonzalo Camacho, Juan Figallo.

Lavanini is increasingly appearing to be the long term answer to Patricio Albacete who has not been selected at all this year despite being fully fit. The international career of Albacete could have come to an end and members of the media close to the team have all but confirmed this without doing so on record. Manuel Carizza also remains outside of the team despite he, with Albacete, having been first choice under Phelan.

The combination of Lavanini and Galarza has proven to be very useful in the matches thus far and they are to start behind the now-familiar front-row combination of captain Agustín Creevy, Ramiro Herrera and Marcos Ayerza. The trio has established itself as the leading scrum in the competition despite having not played together before 2014. Matías Cortese, Lucas Noguera Paz and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro are to be the replacement front-rowers.

In a testament to what Argentina has to offer the world by hosting a Rugby World Cup the match will be played at 7:10pm local time which wll enable those in New Zealand to see the match live at the friendly time of 11:10am. Kick-off is to correspond to 10:10pm GMT, also allowing more than viewable times for those in the U.K. Argentina v South Africa in Salta was an afternoon kick-off.

#
Player
Club
Union
1
Marcos Ayerza
Leicester 
England
2
Agustín Creevy
Worcester
England
3
Ramiro Herrera
Castres
France
4
Mariano Galarza
Gloucester
England
5
Tomás Lavanini
Racing Métro
France
6
Benjamín Macome
Bayonne
France
7
Juan Fernández Lobbe
Toulon
France
8
Leonardo Senatore
Worcester
England
9
Tomás Cubelli
Belgrano
URBA
10
Nicolás Sánchez
Toulon
France
11
Manuel Montero
Pucurá
URBA
12
Juan M. Hernández
Toulon
France
13
Marcelo Bosch
Saracens
England
14
Juan Imhoff
Racing Métro
France
15
Joaquín Tuculet
Unattached

16
Matías Cortese
Liceo
Cuyo
17
Lucas Noguera Paz
Lince
Tucumán
18
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
La Plata
URBA
19
Matías Alemanno
La Tablada
Córdoba
20
Rodrigo Báez
Liceo
Cuyo
21
Martín Landajo
CASI
URBA
22
Santiago González Iglesias
Alumni
URBA
23
Horacio Agulla
Bath
England

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