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Argentina start young blood against All Blacks

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Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade has named his team to play New Zealand’s All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Christchurch on Friday with three players making their tournament debut.

Number eight Facundo Isa, lock Guido Petti and wing Santiago Cordero will all make their Rugby Championship debut on Friday against the World Cup champions.

Coach Hourcade says that this should be the last year that he has to deal with selection headaches for the Rugby Championship as Argentina will have a Super Rugby side from next year.

Argentina have always struggled to name their top side in the Rugby Championship and also to keep them in camp for the duration of the tournament.

However most of their Europe-based players have signed on for the new Super Rugby side and of the 23 named in Friday’s match-day squad 15 have already signed with more to follow.

Trying to blend Argentina’s top players, mostly based in the northern hemisphere, with players based in the southern hemisphere “is a balancing act”, Hourcade said.

The return of the European contingent for the opening Rugby Championship Test meant only four players — Guido Petti, Facundo Isa, Jeronimo De la Fuente and Santiago Cordero — survived from the recent home series against the French Barbarians.

But Hourcade said many of the players who recently finished playing in Europe should now be in their recovery period and not building up for an international series with the World Cup just two months away in England.

“It’s very difficult to mix the players that are playing in Europe and the (southern hemisphere) players,” he said.

“The players who are playing in Europe are in their rest season. They play a different style of rugby in a different calendar.

“Our players at our base in Argentina play the same calendar as the one in the southern hemisphere but at a different level when you compare them to players in Super rugby.”

Backline star Juan Martin Hernandez, who plays for French club Toulon, is a notable omission from the side to face the All Blacks in the opening match of the Rugby Championship which also includes South Africa and Australia.

Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera and Leonardo Senatore are also missing from the line up while the Manuel Carizza, who played Super rugby for the Western Stormers for the past two years returns for his 45th Test.

“We are lucky because this is the last time this is going to happen,” Hourcade said.

“We’re going to have only one team to play Super rugby and the Rugby Championship.”

Argentina

Joaquin Tuculet; Horacio Agulla, Marcelo Bosch, Jeronimo De la Fuente, Santiago Cordero; Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Facundo Isa, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon; Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Manuel Carizza; Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy (captain), Marcos Ayerza.

Replacements: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Benjamin Macome, Javier Ortega Desio, Martin Landajo, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

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