Virus-hit Argentina field cubs against All Blacks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Argentina will face New Zealand in their first meeting of the Tri-Nations on Saturday – the first test for the Argentineans since last year’s World Cup.
Argentina have been one of the hardest-hit teams in world rugby by the pandemic, with several players and coach Mario Ledesma contracting the Covid-19 virus this year.
It means the Argentineans will be a relatively unknown prospect heading into their first test of the year.
Ledesma has named three new faces in the side to face the All Blacks at Bankwest Stadium.
Flank Pablo Matera captains the side, while Santiago Chocobares will make his debut at centre.
Santiago Grondona and Lucio Cinti are also set to make their test debuts from the bench.
It’s been a long road to Australia for the Pumas, with more than a dozen players and staff, including head coach Ledesma, testing positive for Covid-19 at a training camp in Argentina.
The Springboks, who didn’t report any positive tests, withdrew from the Rugby Championship anyway due to worries about player safety from a lack of match practice.
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sánchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gómez-Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo.
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Lucio Cinti, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Western Sydney Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 17.10 ADST (19.10 NZ time; 03.10 Argentina time; 06.10 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Paul Williams
TMO: Ben O’Keefe