Tuesday, October 21, 2014

International Rugby: Argentina with Five new players for November

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Image: UAR
Los Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade has confirmed his squad members for the upcoming three test match tour of Scotland, Italy and France. The thirty-man squad features twenty-five players returning from the Rugby Championship and places for five players who were not involved. The faith shown from Hourcade sees a number of regulars under Santiago Phelan continuing to be unwanted for international duty. The selection provides insight into whom Hourcade is likely to have and not have in his squad for Rugby World Cup 2015. Those not selected for November therefore face an uphill battle.

The 2012 Pumas tour of Europe saw Argentina defeating Wales at the Millennium Stadium. The win was a fixture lacking regular first choice centre Marcelo Bosch and others. Bosch was not able to play due to an agreement restricting the access of Phelan to Top 14 clubs that month. The policy repeated itself in 2013 with Bosch, again, being a case in point of a player missing in action as he was unable to face Italy in Rome.

The policy was extremely controversial due to it the matches being in the IRB release window of November. The UAR, nonetheless, worked together with Premier Rugby and the LNR to ensure players would not find themselves against the walls. Hourcade in 2014, however, has acted to make the policy utterly irrelevant.

The policies hurt Phelan as different combinations were fielded on a weekly basis. Hourcadism offers a different approach. Unlike Phelan, Hourcade does not pick on reputation or on the fact that a certain player is contracted to an important team. Rather he looks at the core skills per position and acts to have the appropriate player involved. This has seen a clearing out of familiar faces as Pampas players, past and present, now dominate the team.

Nowhere is Hourcadism more evident than in the second-row. With Mariano Galarza out injured Hourcade has not selected veterans Manuel Carizza or Patricio Albacete but, instead, has four second-rowers aged no older than 22. Rugby Championship players Tomás Lavanini and Matías Alemanno have been joined by the uncapped Juan Cruz Guillemaín of Stade Français and 19 year old Guido Petti.

Phelan's top three second-rowers, by way of comparison, were Albacete, Carizza and Julio Farías Cabello. Now aged 33, 36 and 30 questions have been asked if Phelan actually knew what was best for the team and the future. On reputation Albacete and Carizza continue to be outstanding players but the performances of Galarza and Lavanini as the leading combination in the Rugby Championship proved Hourcadism correct.

Cruz Guillemaín and Petti are newcomers but are players who Hourcade is very familiar with. Both are former Pumitas with Cruz Guillemaín doing so well in the Junior World Championship that Stade Français signed him to play for the espoirs. He remains at the Parisian club and is now being prepared for his test debut. Petti was Argentina's fourth lock for the Rugby Championship and is now, like Cruz Guillemaín, well placed for game time.

The two second-rower are to be joined by 21 year old hooker Santiago Iglesias Valdez, centre Matías Moroni and outside back Santiago Cordero as changes to the squad from the Rugby Championship. Albacete and Carizza thus remain outside of the frame together with Martín Bustos Moyano, Emiliano Coria, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli, Santiago Fernández, Agustín Figuerola, Tomás Leonardí, Juan Pablo Socino, Gonzalo Tiesi and Benjamín Urdapilleta.

Ramiro Herrera and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro proved to be strong perfomers in place of the injured Juan Figallo and Maximilano Bustos in the Rugby Championship. Hourcade has remained firm to his beliefs as injury to Bruno Postiglioni has not seen any foreign based prop called up. Instead Hourcade has restricted his selection to two loosehead props and two tightheads.

With four second-rowers included Hourcade has gone for five rather than six back-rowers which, consequently, sees Javier Ortega Desio missing out. The back-rowers named are therefore almost certain to be those Hourcade has in mind for the World Cup. The only other being the injured Pablo Matera. Also excluded based on injury are Postiglioni, Galarza, Gabriel Ascárate and Gonzalo Camacho.

Hourcade's selections in the backs continue on from the Rugby Championship. The changes see Moroni getting called up ahead of Javier Rojas and Santiago Cordero named as the only change in the back-three. With Horacio Agulla offering more as an outside centre Cordero is one of four players in contention for a spot on the wing. Lucas González Amorosino has been named as a fullback despite playing wing in the Rugby Championship.

The selection of both González Amorosino and Tuculet in addition to Cordero sees Patricio Fernández left out. The Los Jaguares fly half who can play fullback must now compete together with Santiago Fernández and Benjamín Urdapilleta to force Hourcade into selecting one of them in place of his two fly halves throughout 2014 - Nicolás Sánchez and Santiago González Iglesias. 

Player
Position
Age
Club
Union
Matías Cortese
Hooker
29
Liceo
Cuyo
Agustín Creevy
Hooker
29
Worcester
England
Santiago Iglesias Valdez
Hooker
21
Universitario
Tucumán
Marcos Ayerza
Loosehead Prop
31
Leicester
England
Lucas Noguera Paz
Loosehead Prop
21
Lince
Tucumán
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Tighthead Prop
24
Lyon
France
Ramiro Herrera
Tighthead Prop
25
Castres
France
Matías Alemanno
Second-row
22
La Tablada
Córdoba
Juan Cruz Guillemaín
Second-row
22
Stade Français
France
Tomás Lavanini
Second-row
21
Racing Métro
France
Guido Petti
Second-row
19
SIC
URBA
Rodrigo Báez
Back-row
25
Liceo
Cuyo
Juan Fernández Lobbe
Back-row
32
Toulon
France
Juan Manuel Leguizamón
Back-row
31
Lyon
France
Benjamín Macome
Back-row
28
Bayonne
France
Leonardo Senatore
Back-row
30
Worcester
England
Tomás Cubelli
Scrum-half
25
Belgrano
URBA
Martín Landajo
Scrum-half
26
CASI
URBA
Santiago Gon. Iglesias
Fly half
26
Alumni
URBA
Nicolás Sánchez
Fly half
27
Toulon
France
Jerónimo De La Fuente
Inside Centre
23
Duendes
Rosario
Juan Martín Hernández
Inside Centre
32
Toulon
France
Horacio Agulla
Outside Centre
29
Bath
England
Marcelo Bosch
Outside Centre
30
Saracens
England
Matías Moroni
Outside Centre
23
CUBA
URBA
Santiago Cordero
Wing
20
Regatas
URBA
Juan Imhoff
Wing
24
Racing Métro
France
Manuel Montero
Wing
22
Pucurá
URBA
Lucas Gon. Amorosino
Fullback
28
Cardiff Blues
Wales
Joaquín Tuculet
Fullback
25
Unattached

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