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Preview: Italy edge out Argentina
June 28, 2008

Prop Rodrigo Roncero will captain Argentina for the first time against Italy in Cordoba on Saturday.

Roncero, who has not played for the Pumas since the World Cup, takes over the captaincy from Felipe Contepomi who is rested by coach Santiago Phelan.

The Pumas boss has made a total of seven changes to the side beated by Scotland 26-14 in Buenos Aires two weeks ago that were largely expected following the announcement of the matchday squad earlier this week.

Roncero is joined in new-look front row by fellow prop Juan Gomez and hooker Alvaro Tejeda.

The backline also sees some key changes led by the return of World Cup star Juan Martin Hernandez at flyhalf - one of several Pumas to join up with the squad this week following the conclusion of their club duties in the French Top 14.

Two of those players - Marcelo Bosch and Miguel Avramovic - form the centre partnership for Saturday's clash with the Azzurri.

Lock Manuel Carizza comes in for Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, while Alvaro Galindo comes in at flanker in the absence of Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Italy have been boosted on the eve of the clash by the return of skipper Sergio Parisse.

No.8 Parisse, and his Stade Francais team mates Mauro and Mirco Bergamasco, are named in the starting line-up for the Cordoba clash following their club's defeat in the French Top 14 semi-finals at the weekend.

Parisse re-claims the captain's armband from stand-in skipper Leonardo Ghiraldini who led the side in their 26-0 defeat to South Africa last weekend.

Earlier this week coach Nick Mallett hailed the importance of his returning skipper, commenting, "Parisse is a very important player for the Italian national team. He was the second best player at the last Six Nations.

"Every national team would want him as their number eight - even the All Blacks."

Flanker Mauro Bergamasco returns for the Azzurri for the first time following his 17 week ban for gouging Wales fullback Lee Byrne during February's 47-8 Six Nations defeat in Cardiff.

Elsewhere 20-year-old fly-half Luke McLean retains the No.10 shirt and once again partners scrum-half Simone Picone.

Argentina: Bernardo Stortoni, Lucas Borges, Marcelo Bosch, Miguel Avramovic, Horacio Agulla, Juan Martin Hernandez, Nicolas Vergallo, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Alvaro Galindo, Martin Durand, Esteban Lozada, Manuel Carizza, Juan Gomez, Alvaro Tejeda, Rodrigo Roncero (captain).

Replacements: Pablo Gambarini, Pedro Ledesma, James Stuart, Alejandro Campos, Alfredo Lalanne, Federico Martin Aramburu, Hernan Senillosa.

Italy: Andrea Marcato, Kaine Robertson, Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Garcia, Matteo Pratichetti, Luke McLean, Simon Picone, Sergio Parisse (c), Mauro Bergamasco, Josh Sole, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Santiago Dellape, Carlos Nieto, Fabio Ongaro, Ignacio Rouyet.

Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Alex Moreno, Tommaso Reato, Alessandro Zanni, Pablo Canavosio, Enrico Patrizio, Riccardo Pavan/Jaco Erasmus.

Referee: M. Goddard

Tough Judges: C. Joubert, P. Marks

TMO: G. Ayoub

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