Monday, November 3, 2014

International Rugby: Pumas Injury Update

Photo UAR
Los Pumas are in Scotland preparing for the first of three test matches this month in Europe. The domestic based players arrived on Sunday and have been joined by those based abroad. With the test matches being in the November international window head coach Daniel Hourcade has complete access to all players he desires to select. While Hourcadism has seen a number of regular players under Santiago Phelan having lost their places in the squad the team to face Scotland in Edinburgh will not be Hourcade's leading lineup. In total eleven players are out with injury, most of which will not play for Los Pumas again until June 2015 at the earliest.  

Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe
Having left the field in the opening minutes of Ulster v Toulon in round two of the European Rugby Championship Cup Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe's tour came to a close before it began. The veteran back-rower does not require surgery but faces a long recovery which will not see him back playing until late January.  

Juan Manuel Leguizamón
Fernández Lobbe missed out on facing Australia in the famous win in Mendoza last month. He did so due to the birth of his second child in France. Long time teammate Juan Manuel Leguizamón missed the fixture through injury and has not yet returned to the field. He was named by Hourcade as one of seven back-rowers and remains a chance of playing this month, but not against Scotland.

With him in doubt Hourcade called-up the uncapped Facundo Isa. The twenty-one year old has Semi Finals experience in the IRB Junior World Championship and also played for Toulon last season before returning to Argentina to join the Pampas XV. He recently played in the Americas Rugby Championship in Canada.

Pablo Matera
Argentina's first choice back-row consists of Fernández Lobbe, Leguizamón and Matera. None of the three will face Scotland, Italy or France this month though. Matera was badly injured against South Africa in Salta and underwent shoulder reconstruction surgery. It resulted in his return to the Leicester Tigers being put on ice. He will be out for quite some time with his return coming in 2015.

In place of Matera Hourcade has been fielding Pampas players and not looking to those playing in Europe such as Tomás Leonardí or Tomás Vallejos Cinalli. Matera was replaced by Rodrigo Báez in the Rugby Championship with Báez playing on the side of the scrum and Leonardo Senatore at number eight. Both are likely to retain their spots against Scotland with Javier Desio Ortega likely to be joining them.

Benjamín Macome
Macome (pictured above) started against the Wallabies but was forced out early with an injury. He recovered to play for Bayonne in the Top 14 this past weekend but picked up another injury in the match and has been ruled out of facing Scotland this weekend. The extent of his injury is regarded as minor which should see him back in contention to face Italy on November 15 in Genoa where he may start at the back of the scrum.

Maximiliano Bustos
Having started and impressed for Argentina last November Bustos had established himself as a long term prospect for Argentina at tighthead prop. He held down a starting position at Montpellier and was expected to be Argentina's starting tightehad in the 2014 Rugby Championship due to Juan Figallo having been badly injured in the 2013 Rugby Championship. Having faced Perpignan, in February Bustos complained of pain in his neck and has been diagnosed with a cervical disc herniation. He is not allowed, by law, to play in France any longer and has been reported as having had his career ended at just 28 years of age.

Juan Figallo
The loss of Bustos and Figallo resulted in Daniel Hourcade selected the uncapped Ramiro Herrera. The performances of the Castres front-rower were noteworthy with him being named the best tighthead prop in the Rugby Championship. Argentina, in other words, has a lot of options on the right side of the front-row. Figallo remains the leading player and at 26 years of age he is expected to be back for Rugby World Cup 2015.

Like Bustos, Figallo, suffered a G3 injury but was able to continue playing as he moved from France to England where he made his debut for Saracens yesterday in the LV= Cup. The long road to recovery saw Figallo not play a game over a thirteen month period but he is now on his way back to becoming a player at the elite level. He will not play for Argentina this month but could be back to prepare with Hourcade's squad for the World Cup.

Bruno Postiglioni
La Plata loosehead prop Bruno Postiglioni had been a part of Sanitago Phelan's squads but was never able to get game time against leading opposition. Daniel Hourcade took a different appraoch and utilized Postiglioni in rotation with Lucas Noguera Paz as back-up to Marcos Ayerza in the Rugby Championship. Postiglioni will not play against Scotland, Italy or France but Hourcade has not selected a replacement. Instead Argentina is on outr with two specialist loosehead props.

Mariano Galarza
Controversy surrounded the selection of Argentina's Rugby Championship squad earlier this year. Missing were both Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza - the two regular starters under Santiago Phelan in the second-row up to his final match in charge. Hourcade opted against selecting either player with Albacete gone for his off-field behavior and Carizza's form deemed to not be up to standard for the Stormers in Super Rugby.

Both players remain outside of the squad with Hourcade prefering young players in an effort to have greater options. Phelan's overuse of certain players has seen comments on social media suggesting that he held back Los Pumas by five years. One player he selected but rarely utilized was Mariano Galarza who was Hourcade's first choice number 4 in the Rugby Championship. Galarza, though, is out of rugby with a shoulder injury and expected to return to play for Gloucester next month.

Guido Petti
Aged just 19 Guido Petti was selected by Hourcade for the November tour of Europe. His selection was another to raise eyebrows due to him being a second-rower and there still being no place for either Albacete or Carizza. Petti though, like Leguizamón, was forced out of the tour last week.

No replacement was initially called up for Petti but this changed with Macome remaining in doubt and Matías Alemanno subsequently missing the Scottish test. Without Petti Macome was an option to cover the second-row which includes just three specialists - Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lavanini and the uncapped Juan Cruz Guillemáin of Stade Français.

Matías Alemanno
Having faced the Barbarians in London on Saturday Matías Alemanno was on track to be Argentina's replacement second-rower at Murrayfield. Indeed in training today, Monday, the combination of Cruz Guillemaín and Lavanini locked the scrum. Alemanno, though, was not involved. He sat out training with a virus and will not be able to face Scotland this weekend.

With Macome and Alemanno now both forced out of the opening tour fixture Hourcade called-up Lucas Ponce of CUBA. The selectionof the twenty-four year old is noteworthy as it means Albacete and Carizza remain outside of the squad behind a staggering seven other second-rowers or eight including Macome. The pairing had been Phelan's starting combination from 2009-2013 with Julio Farías Cabello tending to be the regular replacement. All three are outside of Hourcade's thoughts.

Gabriel Ascárate
Tucumán's Gabriel Ascárate returned from Scotland with a neck injury in early 2014 and recovered to subsequently join the Pampas XV. He was named by Hourcade in the Pumas squad as a mid-fielder but was forced to sit out the Rugby Championship with a knee injury. The extent of his injury is such that he is not going to play rugby again at all in 2014.

In his place Hourcade has utilized local based players including Matías Moroni and Jerónimo De la Fuente. Both players are in Scotland now as are Juan Martín Hernández, Marcelo Bosch and Horacio Agulla. The trio are all playing for Argentina mid-fielders now despite being from other positions. Their involvement explans the exlusion of professionals Benjamín Urdapilleta, Santiago Fernández, Juan Pablo Socino and Gonzalo Tiesi.

Gonzalo Camacho
2014 has not been an easy year for Gonzalo Camacho. The former Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs winger joined the Leicester Tigers prior to the 2013-2014 season but is yet to make an appearance for the East Midlands club. Having undergone shoulder reconstriuction surgery following a collision with Richie McCaw, Camacho has been waiting for over thirteen months to play again. Complications in his surgery saw him operated on three times.

His return to the rugby field is expected to be approaching now. Camacho is not fit to play for Argentina but is likely to be playing for Leicester by December. Camacho had been deemed to be Argentina's best winger under Phelan but he now faces a lot of competition with Juan Imhoff, Manuel Montero, Santiago Cordero all being serious contenders for the World Cup. They are all in the squad to face Scotland. Lucas González Amorosino, of the Cardiff Blues, is also in the squad but will not face Scotland.

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