Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Puma is happy to be home after almost 3 years

The Argentine’s absence from home has only made his fans go crazy for his Puma.

Puma has not played at home since August 2019, a month before the Rugby World Cup in Japan. It would have been 1,056 days since that game when they reunite at home on Saturday for the first three Tests against Scotland.

Argentines have been brought in by supporters ever since they arrived in Jujuy last weekend for a series featuring Salta and Santiago del Estero.

“I was lucky to be able to play here in Jujuy, against Georgia (in 2017) and the reception is always incredible,” said hooker Augustin Crewey. “Let’s hope it stays like this for the rest of the tour.

“Coming home is always wonderful. The intention is to share (with fans) what could not be experienced in recent years. It’s giving them something back, sharing what the shirt is about and knowing that they are a part of it too. They are part of Puma. We are all part of Puma.”

Creevy is also enjoying a reunion of sorts. The 37-year-old former captain is back in the team – in reserve – for the first time since the 2019 World Cup. Reserve prop Meco Vivas and starting center Mattias Orlando have their first cap since December 2020.

His returns can be credited to form – for example, Crewey made 18 tries for the London Irish this season – and new coach Michael Cheeca, the former Wallabies mentor, took over in March.

Cheeka is assisted by former pumas Felipe Contepomi, Juan Fernández Lobbé and Andrés Bordoy, and former New Zealand rugby league player and coach David Kidwell. Kidwell is in charge of defense, one of Puma’s weak points last year.

Argentina won only three of the 12 Tests in 2021 and lost all six Tests in the Rugby Championship. The grind of playing away from home, moving in a bubble from country to country and living under sanctions and out of the bag took a toll, and Mario Ledesma resigned as coach in February.

Cheeka’s first Puma lineup hasn’t shied away from Ledesma’s teams – there are eight players with over 50 caps and three more with over 40 caps – but they have chosen in form.

The team includes Argentina’s first Super Rugby winner in Crusaders flanker Pablo Matera; A European Cup winner in La Rochelle’s Joel Sclavey, who could make his Pumas debut from the bench; Two English Premiership winners in Julian Montoya and Mattias Moroni; and a European Challenge Cup winner in Lyon prop Francisco Gómez Codela.

Benjamin Urdpileta, back for the first time since the 2019 World Cup, may not have hurt his right leg and made the French top 14 final, which his Castres team lost last week. Instead, Nicolas Sánchez is Gloucester outside Santiago Carreras as backup for the flyhalf and Toulouse wing Juan Cruz Mallia is a temporary fullback.

“The focus is, among other things, not just for Saturday, but for the long term,” Cheeka said. “It was not easy to change the pace and intensity. We’re going to try to do what’s needed to get ready for Saturday, because it’s important, but we have two plans: one, to win on Saturday, and the other to reach the best form in the World Cup. (at 14 months). We are building from layers. ,

Scotland regulars captain Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, Chris Harris – all British Lions backs – and front-rowers Fraser Brown, Stuart McInly and WP Nell were left at home to rest or recover. Also, Josh Bayliss, Ben Wellacott, Adam Hastings and Hugh Jones were injured.

The team returned to the Six Nations and has a familiar look.

The same tight five, who faced Ireland in the last round in March, also included new captain Grant Gilchrist. Flanker Luke Crosby, who captained Scotland A to a non-cap win against Chile in Santiago last Saturday, made his debut ahead of Rory Darge.

Ali Price and Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe, back from suspension, Mark Bennett in his first start since 2016, and Rory Hutchinson, playing his first Test since 2020.



Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Santiago Cordero, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sánchez, Tomas Qubeli; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kramer, Juan Martín González, Matias Alemano, Guido Petti, Francisco Gómez Codela, Julian Montoya (Captain), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Reserves: Agustin Crevi, Meco Vivas, Joel Scalvi, Lucas Paulos, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Santiago Carreras, Matias Moroni.

Scotland: Rory Hutchinson, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Luke Crosby, Magnus Bradbury, Johnny Grey, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Xander Fagerson, George Turner, Pierre Showman. Reserves: Evan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, Javan Sebastian, Sam Skinner, Rory Darge, Ben White, Ross Thompson, Zion Tuipulotu.


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