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Rugby Championship: Argentina team profile

Fixtures:

August 18 v South Africa (Durban); August 25 v South Africa (Mendoza); Sept 8 v New Zealand (Nelson); Sept 15 v Australia (Gold Coast); Sept 29 v New Zealand (Buenos Aires); October 6 v Australia (Salta).

June window:

Woeful series of summer Tests when the Jaguares – perhaps fatigued and empty after an exceptional run of wins on the road in Super Rugby – just couldn’t find any form when almost to a man they re-mustered as the Pumas. Finished a very distant second to a far from full strength Wales, and defeat against Scotland then underlined that all was not well with Pumas. Coach Daniel Hourcade was soon on his way – he served the Pumas well – but they have been going backwards for a while now.

Squad news and preparations:

Dominated by the appointment last month of Jaguares coach Mario Ledesma as Argentina’s new coach. Ledesma has taken quickly to coaching and had already made the Jaguares much more competitive in Super Rugby. Has called up six uncapped players, including five forwards. Badly needs to unearth a few tough young tyros up front.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Depends whether you look at the Jaguares or Pumas! The Jaguares have been playing a fast tempo, fluid handling game and holding their own in the setpiece. The Pumas have been displaying concrete hands, Nicholas Sanchez has lost his mojo at ten and the famed Pumas scrum has been struggling. Will be interesting to see which team turns up.

Squad:

Backs: Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastian Cancelliere, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Delguy, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Bautista Ezcurra, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Martin Landajo, Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Nicolas Sanchez. Forwards: Matías Alemanno, Rodrigo Bruni, Marco Ciccioli, Agustín Creevy (capt), Lucas Favre, Diego Fortuny, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Ignacio Larrague, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera, Vivas Mayco, Santiago Medrano, Franco Molina, Julian Montoya, Javier Ortega Desio, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Juan Zeiss.

(Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Players to watch:

Emiliano Boffelli is a precocious youngster who has seamlessly stepped up and shown up well in Super Rugby and can play anywhere in the back row. The Pumas need to find a way of getting him more involved. In the back row Pablo Matera made the Super Rugby All-Stars XV and is a strong go-to runner.

Championship History:

Wooden spoonists in five of the six Championships they have contested with 2015’s abbreviated competition – when they recorded a famous 37-25 win against South Africa in Durban – the only occasion they rose to third position. Also have a win over Australia but no joy yet against New Zealand although they played particularly well against the ABs in New Plymouth last year.

Prediction:

Tough baptism for Ledesma, another wooden spoon I’m afraid.

Words by Brendan Gallagher

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