Hourcade, appointed after last week’s resignation of Santiago Phelan, has retained the core of Argentina’s Rugby Championship squad and introduced promising young talents in a 31-man party for next month’s baptism of fire in Europe.
With the three-test tour starting against England at Twickenham on November 9, Hourcade has yet to name his captain after Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was injured playing for Toulon on Saturday.
Hourcade, who coached Argentina’s development side the Jaguars to a fourth consecutive Americas Rugby Championship title in Canada last week, is well aware of the challenge of a tour that also includes tests against Wales and Italy.
“The team has been improving significantly each year, what we lack is experience.
“We’re still at a disadvantage in sporting terms due to the kind of game (the top teams) play,” Hourcade told a news conference at UAR headquarters.
“We’re going to take advantage of the experience of the Rugby Championship players and give some playing time to those (younger ones) with promise.
“But the (match) results will be important, this is the Pumas,” added Hourcade, who coached Portugal at the 2007 World Cup in France before joining the UAR as coach of their development teams, the third-string Pampas and the Jaguars.
Argentina lost all six of their matches in their second appearance in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship between August and October despite improvements in some aspects of their game.
“In the Rugby Championship you can’t improvise (but) with this squad on this tour it’s an excellent moment to try out players,” former captain Agustin Pichot said.
“What made an impression on me was something Graham (Henry) said, that Argentina must score more tries,” added Pichot, now a UAR board member.
Henry, who steered New Zealand to victory in the 2011 World Cup, helped the Pumas as a consultant in their first two seasons in the Rugby Championship but is unlikely to do so again with Argentina looking for someone to take a more hands-on role.
“We have a lot of confidence in the (new) staff, they’re not new faces for us,” said Pichot, adding that the UAR has studied the CVs of top foreign coaches with a view to signing one to add to the staff to give the Pumas a leap in quality.
“It’s been more than a decade that we’ve had players as professionals abroad… but we don’t have much (coaching) experience in the first world of rugby,” he added.
Leonardo Senatore, Mariano Galarza, Agustin Creevy (all Worcester), Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Lyon), Pablo Matera, Marcos Ayerza (both Leicester), Julio Farias Cabello, Benjamin Macome (both Tucuman RC), Patricio Albacete (Toulouse), Manuel Carizza (Western Province), Agustin Creevy (Worcester), Juan Pablo Orlandi, Eusebio Guinazu (both Bath), Tomas Lavanini (Hindu), Nahuel Lobo (free agent), Maximiliano Bustos (Montpellier), Santiago Iglesias (Universitario de Tucuman)
Horacio Agulla (Bath), Juan Jose Imhoff, Juan Martin Hernandez (both Racing Metro), Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino (Oyannax), Santiago Fernandez (Aviron Bayonnais), Gonzalo Tiesi (free agent), Marcelo Bosch (Saracens), Joaquin Tuculet, Nicolas Sanchez (both Bordeaux Begles), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Athletic), Martin Landajo (CASI), Santiago Cordero (Regatas Bella Vista), Gabriel Azcarate (Glasgow), Javier Rojas (Universitario de Tucuman)