Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pacific Challenge: Pampas XV named to face Tonga 'A'

Photo Stade Français
The Pampas XV coached Raúl Pérez and Martín Gaitán have confirmed their starting lineup for the second round World Rugby Pacific Challenge fixture in Fiji. The Argentine side will face the official 'A' team of their Rugby World Cup 2015 pool opponents, Tonga on Friday. Wholesale changes have been made to the team that defeated the Fiji Warriors in the round one clash. Only four players have been retained and Martín Landajo replaces scrumhalf rival Tomás Cubelli as captain. The replacements are yet to be confirmed. The match will kick-off at 8pm Argentine time.  

The rotation policy of the Pampas XV has seen Martín Landajo recalled to lead the team in place of Tomás Cubelli who captained the team to a three tries to two victory over Fiji's 'A' side on Tuesday. Both players have signed Super Rugby contracts to play for the Argentine franchise set to enter the competition in 2016. A further five players named to start against Tonga 'A' have also signed with the UAR while the remaining players are all pushing for deals themselves. 

Joining Landajo in the starting halves is Javier Rojas a player to have featured previously in the mid-field. With Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade having a overwhelming impact on the selection policy of the Pampas XV the Tucumán centre is been utilized as a pivot with an eye to the future. 

Rojas will play inside Jerónimo De la Fuente who was used regularly by Hourcade in 2014 and has a Super Rugby contract. His mid-field partner, Emiliano Boffelli is very much a player of future potential and like De la Fuente comes from the Duendes club in Rosatio. Aged 20 Boffelli is uncapped but has represented Argentina at junior level.

Another Duendes player, Tomás Carrío will start on the right wing and be joined the back-three by the Super Rugby signed Ramiro Moyano and the highly dangerous Santiago Cordero. All three are expected to feature in Hourcade's 60 man training squad from which he will put together his final squad of 31 players for the World Cup. 

Upfront Pérez and Gaitán have gone for change. Former Stade Français medical joker Santiago García Botta (pictured above) will start at loosehead prop joining Facundo Bosch and Lucas Martínez. All three have plenty to play for with each having the potential to make a claim to being among the top three in their positions. 

The second-row combination to face the Tongans will feature Matías Alemanno being joined by the uncapped Aníbal Penceyra Garrido in the second-row. Alemanno is backing up from facing the Fiji Warriors and is a player with everything to play for given the competition for places in the second-row position. 

Completing the starting lineup is the back-row of Tomás Lezana, Pablo Matera and Facundo Isa. The trio are all former Pumitas of note and all of them could, indeed, make the Argentine World Cup squad. In 2014 all performed well when selected Of them only Matera is backing up from the opening round match. 

With Hourcade having established himself as a coach who does not select under performing players many have everything to play for with this being abundantly clear in the back-row. In 2014 Hourcade left out professionals Manuel Carizza, Matías Díaz, Santiago Fernández, Agustín Figuerola, Eusebio Guiñazú, Tomás Leonardí, Nahuel Lobo, Gonzalo Tiesi and Benjamín Urdapilleta for the Rugby Championship. The Pampas XV now piles the pressure on the European based Juan Manuel Fernández Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Benjamín Macome and Leonardo Senatore.

Santiago García Botta
Facundo Bosch
Lucas Martínez
Aníbal Penceyra Garrido
Matías Alemanno
Tomás Lezana
Pablo Matera
Facundo Isa
Martín Landajo
Javier Rojas
Santiago Cordero
Jerónimo De La Fuente
Emiliano Boffelli
Tomás Carrió
Ramiro Moyano

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