Contepomi leads powerful Pumas

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 09:06
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The Argentine team will have nine players who are based offshore when they take on England in Salta on Saturday.

The Argentine team will have nine players who are based offshore when they take on England in Salta on Saturday.

The team, to be captained by veteran centre Felipe Contepomi, will also feature other stalwarts like Julio Farias Cabello and Gonzalo Tiesi.

In addition, the six remaining players from the starting lineup are members of the Pampas XV that played in the Vodacom Cup provincial competition in South Africa earlier this year.

Contepomi, who retired from professional club rugby at Stade Francais at the end of the European season, will captain the Pumas from inside centre with Tiesi, looking for a new club in Europe after recovering from injury, on the outside.

Pumas coach Santiago Phelan said he opted to name a combination of experience and young players in order to "preserve" his squad for the Rugby Championships - which gets underway when Argentina face South Africa in either Bloemfontein or Soweto.

Phelan said he is well aware of the strength of the opposition, but the team remained "enthusiastic" after some "very good" training sessions.

"We know we face a tough opponent, and that's why we're working hard to get in good condition for Saturday," the coach said.

"This is a great opportunity for these players, both new and those who already have more experience. To play for the Pumas and represent your country is a big responsibility, and we are aware of the magnitude of this game," he added.

"England is a very comprehensive, balanced team. We know we'll have a big fight for the ball, and that's why the collisions will be very important - to ensure we prevail in the contact point."

The teams last met at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand where England won 13-9. Their last meeting in Argentina was in Salta in 2009, when the Pumas won 24-22.

The second test is a week later at the Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires.

England opened their tour with a 41-21 victory over a South America XV in Montevideo last Sunday.

Argentina: 15 Martin Bustos Moyano, 14 Matias Orlando, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Benjamin Macome, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Esteban Lozada, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Martin Garcia Veiga, 1 Pablo Henn.
Replacements: 16 Mauricio Guidone, 17 Guillermo Roan, 18 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Tomas De la Vega, 21 Nicolas Vergallo, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Belisario Agulla.

Date: Saturday, June 8
Venue: El Estadio Padre Martearena, Salta
Kick-off: 16.10 (19.10 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)