Pumas primed for Championship bow
July 6, 2012
Santiago Phelan's squad are in Florida preparing for their eagerly-anticipated Rugby Championship bow © Getty Images
Argentina have named a 33-man training squad ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa next month.
The group, currently training in Pensacola, Florida, includes a fit-again Juan Martin Hernandez, who missed last year's Rugby World Cup with a knee injury and veterans Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Rodrigo Roncero.
Lock Patricio Albacete will skipper the Pumas, fresh from helping Toulouse to the Top 14 crown, while new Bath signing Horacio Agulla, Leicester's Marcus Ayerza and Exeter's Gonzalo Camacho are the only three Premiership players set for Championship action.
Felipe Contepomi is the most high-profile absentee after he opted to play in the recent home Tests against Italy and France rather than the Rugby Championship in a one-off deal offered by the Argentina Rugby Union. The 34-year-old, who is expected to retire from international rugby at the end of the year, has since returned to his French club Stade Francais ahead of the new domestic season and may yet return to the mix for the November internationals.
Albacete is relishing the opportunity to tackle southern hemisphere giants Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but is well aware of the challenge facing his side. "The Rugby Championship is going to be very tough," he said on the eve of his side's trip to the USA. "We are going to play against the best three teams in the world but it is the only way for us to make progress.
"To achieve a good result we are going to have to be perfect every weekend and we will see how many consecutive perfect games we can play. Hopefully we can play some great rugby, especially with the addition of Graham Henry, who is going to contribute so much to our campaign."
Argentina training squad:
Horacio Agulla (Bath, England), Patricio Albacete (Stade Toulouse, France), Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England), Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz, France), Martín Bustos Moyano (Montpellier, France), Maximilano Bustos (Montpellier, France), Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter Chiefs, England), Rafael Carballo (Bordeaux Begles, France), Manuel Carizza (Biarritz, France), Agustín Creevy (Montpellier, France), Tomas Cubelli (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Tomas De La Vega (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Julio Farías Cabello (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Juan Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France), Santiago Fernández (Montpellier, France), Juan Figallo (Montpellier, France), Agustín Figuerola (Brive, France), Alvaro Galindo (Racing Métro, France), Lucas González Amorosino (Montpellier, France), Eusebio Guiñazú (Biarritz, France), Juan Martín Hernández (Racing Métro, France), Juan Imhoff (Racing Métro, France), Martín Landajo (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Juan Leguizamón (Lyon, France), Tomás Leonardi (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Juan Pablo Orlandi (Racing Métro, France), Bruno Postiglioni (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Martin Rodríguez (Stade Français, France), Rodrigo Roncero (Unattached), Nicolás Sánchez (Bordeaux Begles, France), Leonardo Senatore (Los Pampas XV, Argentina), Tomás Vallejos (Scarlets, Wales), Nicolás Vergallo (Stade Toulouse, France)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year