Monday, November 17, 2014

Guinness Pro 12: Joaquín Tuculet signs for Cardiff Blues

Photo Sebastian Giunta|SG  UAR
Following the recent arrival of Lucas González Amorosino in Wales the Cardiff Blues have signed a second Puma according to Welsh journalist Simon Thomas. The twenty-five year veteran rugby writer says that the Cardiff Blues will confirm the signature of Joaquín Tuculet who is to join the Welsh region next month and remain there until the completion of the 2014-2015 season. It will see the first choice Argentine fullback playing for a fourth European club but playing for the first time in the Guinness Pro 12. An official announcement from the Cardiff Blues is expected to be made shortly. 

Prior to 2014 Joaquín Tuculet had been a Pumas squad member but one receiving irregular game time. With Daniel Hourcade having replaced Santiago Phelan in late 2014 this changed as the former Pampas XV coach required the early release of several Pumas, including Tuculet, Lucas González Amorosino and Nicolás Sánchez, in Europe and had their services for the CONSUR Cup in June. 

Tuculet was heavily used. So much so that he started against Chile in Santiago and has played in eleven subsequent test matches this year, starting all of them except for the home fixture against Scotland in Córodoba. Now having earned nineteen test caps Tuculet is a player almost certain to be involved in Argentina's Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign. 

The La Plata fullback also started against Wales and Italy under Hourcade last November but his only test starts under Phelan were for Pumas sides missing Rugby Championship squad members. With Hourcadism being the game plan Argentina's veteran players are being phased out of tests selection with some notable players, such as Patricio Albacete, Santiago Fernández and Gonzalo Tiesi having not been selected all year.

Tuculet is a case in point of what Hourcade is looking for as his attacking approach of rugby requires a different breed of players than the defensive oriented players that tended to be the norm under Phelan. Hourcade knows Tuculet very well due to having coached him in the Pampas XV before he earned his first professional contract playing for the Sale Sharks. 

The twenty-five year old played the 2011-2012 season in the Aviva Premiership before moving to France to play for firstly Grenoble and secondly Bordeaux-Begles. Neither Top 14 club was particularly happy with losing him to pre-season activity while he was in camp with Los Pumas. Indeed despite missing their player the Puma never, until 2014, featured in a Rugby Championship match.

His performances in the Rugby Championship saw him named on multiple occasions as the player of the round in his position. He scored two tries in the tournament, crossing in Salta against South Africa and on the Gold Coast against Australia. He also scored against Ireland and Scotland in June. In total he has scored six test tries to date. 

Despite being a fullback at international level Simon Thomas reports that Tuculet's arrival in the Welsh capital is to be as a centre as the Welsh region has injury concerns. Tuculet indeed has experience in the mid-field, including a test start in the home win over France in 2012. 

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