Argentina coach Michael Cheika decided on Thursday to profoundly change his starting XV, with eleven new players compared to the team which beat Samoa (19-10) to challenge Chile on Saturday in Nantes in Group D.
Unsurprisingly, the Australian coach of the Pumas has largely reshuffled his squad against the weakest team in the group, Chile, which suffered three defeats, including a particularly heavy last against England (71-0).
“This team deserves to play in the World Cup, they have the opportunity to show their abilities. It’s a good team to play a very important match in this world championship,” explained Michael Cheika in Spanish at a press conference in La Baule about his selection.
Thus, we find an experienced hinge with the fly-half Nicolas Sanchez (34 years old) and the scrum half Tomas Cubelli (34 years old). At 35, the arrow Juan Imhoff will occupy a wing, while the solid center Jeronimo de la Fuente will play his first match and will be captain.
In the forward pack, Marcos Kremer and Juan Martin Gonzalez return but it is Facundo Isa who will be in the third center line position.
Eduardo Bello, very good against Samoa, is renewed while Agustin Creevy should play his 18th World Cup match, thus equaling the record of Mario Ledesma, another hooker.
After a particularly disappointing opening match against the English (27-10), the Pumas raised their heads against Samoa (19-10), but did not remove all doubts about their potential for this world championship, particularly in subject of their three-quarter line.
They must win on Saturday at La Beaujoire against a Chilean team who will play their last match of the competition, in an astonishing “Andean derby”.
“We know how important this match will be, how difficult it will be to face Chile. It's going to be a great match to play. Two South American countries, it will be historic,” declared Andrès Bordoy, Pumas forward coach, in the week.
In the event of a victory, the Argentines could play a “false round of 16” against Japan on Sunday October 8, in Nantes.
Holders: Bogado - Isgro, Cinti, De la Fuente (cap.), Imhoff - (o) Sanchez, (m) Cubelli - Kremer, Isa, Gonzalez - Rubiolo, Petti - Bello, Creevy, Sclavi.Replacements: Ruiz, Vivas, Gómez Kodela, Alemanno, Oviedo, Bazan Velez, S. Carreras, Mallia.