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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Struggling Argentina face 'difficult' November Tests

The Pumas will face England and Italy as well as Joe Schmidt’s Ireland.

Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade.
Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade.
Image: Paul Harding

STRUGGLING ARGENTINA HAVE named a 32-man squad packed with familiar faces for “difficult” Tests in England, Italy and Ireland during November.

Hooker Agustin Creevy skippers Los Pumas, who have won only one of nine internationals this year, and that against second-tier rugby nation Georgia.

They lost twice to a virtual second-string England touring team in June, then failed at home and away against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in the Rugby Championship.

History supports the view of coach Daniel Hourcade that challenging Tests lie ahead in London and Dublin.

Argentina have lost seven of eight previous Tests in England and all seven in Ireland, while succeeding seven times in nine visits to Italy.

“We will face difficult Tests against opponents who are in prime physical condition while we are coming to the end of a long season,” admitted Hourcade.

“It is important, however, to play against the best teams in the world if we are going to grow as a team.”

England are ranked second behind New Zealand and Ireland fourth in the latest world rankings. Argentina lie 10th.

Apart from Creevy, stalwarts chosen for the Europe tour included full-back Joaquin Tuculet, fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, scrum-half Martin Landajo and loose forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

Many of the others in the squad have been in and out of a team that constantly changed this year in pursuit of an elusive winning formula.

Hourcade has injected some new blood in forward Rodrigo Bruni and winger Sebastian Cancelliere, both 24 year olds who have played for the national ‘A’ team.

“Rodrigo and Sebastian excelled with the Argentina XV (A team) this year and deserve opportunities to join the senior squad,” said Hourcade.

“They impressed in training during the past two weeks and are now offered a chance to compete for matchday 23 places.”

Bruni is a number eight, a position often filled by Leguizamon or Leonardo Senatore, who has also been chosen to tour Europe.

Cancelliere plays on the wing and will compete with Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero, Matias Moroni and Ramiro Moyano for game time.

Physically imposing Boffelli has been one of the Argentine stars during a tough season, combining powerful running with an ability to score off long-range penalties.

When it comes to goal-kicking, the form of 2015 Rugby World Cup leading scorer Sanchez has been alarmingly erratic lately, costing his country crucial points.

Argentina play England on 11 November in a dress-rehearsal for a 2019 Rugby World Cup pool match in Japan, Italy on 18 November and Ireland on 25 November.


Forwards (18)

Matías Alemanno, Felipe Arregui, Rodrigo Bruni, Agustín Creevy (capt), Santiago García Botta, Marcos Kremer, Tomás Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Tomás Lezana, Benjamín Macome, Pablo Matera, Julián Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Javier Ortega Desio, Guido Petti, Enrique Pieretto, Leonardo Senatore, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Backs (14)

Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastián Cancelliere, Santiago Cordero, Bautista Ezcurra, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Juan Martín Hernández, Martín Landajo, Ramiro Moyano, Matías Moroni, Matías Orlando, Nicolas Sanchez, Joaquín Tuculet

© – AFP 2017

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