OpinionTuesday, May 27, 2014
A new approach
The lessons learnt after the failed test-series against England last year were the key to a different outlook to the national rugby team that will face four games in consecutive weekends starting this Saturday.
This is how Daniel Hourcade, Puma head coach, explained the reasoning behind a squad of 31 players named yesterday to face Sudamérica XV (on Saturday May 31, in Santa Fe), Ireland (June 7 and 14 in Chaco and Tucumán) and Scotland (Saturday June 21, in Córdoba). “The decision to select the core from Los Pampas XV has meant a change in the way we made up the squad in comparison to previous years. The experiences of France in 2012 and England last year helped us take a new approach.”
So, after the huge experience gained by Los Pampas XV over two months in Australia playing in the Pacific Rugby Cup and against two Super Rugby franchises and adding seven players based overseas, a squad rich in individual players will continue to work towards a good June test window.
On Sunday, in Santiago de Chile, three players previously based in Europe played against Chile Nicolás Sánchez, Lucas González Amorosino and Joaquín Tuculet will need time to find their feet in a squad that has been working together for a few months now. “The goal will always be to control our own game, with more dynamism and using the backs,” explained the Tucumán-born coach when asked about how he hopes his team will play.
In the squad of 31 players, among those not based in Argentina, prop Ramiro Herrera has had a sudden rise in French rugby. Called two months ago as an injury wild card at Castres-Olympique, he soon gained his place in the top team and this Saturday will play the final of the French League. “This speaks highly of the preparation we have in the country that a player can so quickly fit in the highest level. The list is completed with Manuel Carizza and Matías Díaz (both playing in Super Rugby) and Benjamín Macome.
As well as naming this squad and waiting for the names that will travel to Georgia to play the Tbilisi Cup to be announced in a few days, on Saturday 13 Europe-based players were named for the Rugby Championship preparation that will travel to a training camp in Pensacola, USA. This list, to be completed by home-based players, did not include the experienced duo of Marcos Ayerza and Patricio Albacete.
“Our plan is to see players in certain positions and have more depth with at least three or four able and experienced players in each position,” he said in explaining the two absences. “Nobody, absolutely nobody, has been excluded from consideration.”
“Not going to Pensacola does not mean they might not be selected for the Rugby Championship.” Hourcade needs to find able players in key positions such as front row, locks and centres.
With regards to the opposition, Ireland will be tough: “They are the reigning Six Nations champions, one of the top five teams in the world. And Scotland is also a tough team with very good players. But we can’t underestimate the first game against South America XV; they have players from within our system desperate to earn a place in Los Pumas,” concluded Hourcade.