Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has named his 46-man preliminary Rugby World Cup 2019 squad which includes five uncapped players and a handful of Europe-based players.
Since the birth of Jaguares, Argentina’s Super Rugby franchise, in 2016, the Unión Argentina de Rugby decreed that overseas-based players would no longer be eligible for Los Pumas.
This remained the case until last year when Mario Ledesma, who played three Rugby World Cups in Argentina’s front row, took over as head coach and a case-by-case basis was applied.
Where Ledesma believes he has a position sufficiently covered by players in Argentina, he has opted not to select those playing trade overseas. This is the case with wingers Juan Imhoff, Argentina’s top try scorer in RWC history, and Santiago Cordero, who made the English Premiership’s tournament XV for 2018-19.
Among the overseas players who have made the squad, which will be reduced to the 31 that travel to Japan, are fly-halves Nicolás Sánchez and Benjamín Urdapilleta, props Ramiro Herrera and Juan Figallo and loose forward Facundo Isa, who returns to the fold for the first time since 2016.
Also included is hooker Santiago Socino who, having left Argentina aged 21, is selected for a national team for the first time after recently signing a two-year contract with Jaguares. The other uncapped players in the squad are prop Mayco Vivas, second-row Lucas Paulos and backs Lucas Mensa and Santiago Carreras.
Another big inclusion is that of former captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, who joins Ledesma’s staff as forwards coach after a season coaching in the Top 14 with Toulon. Fernández Lobbe retired from international rugby after Rugby World Cup 2015, before finally hanging up his playing boots a year ago.
Argentina will face England, France, Tonga and USA at Japan 2019, but before heading to the Rugby World Cup they will play a truncated Rugby Championship campaign. They will face New Zealand in Buenos Aires on 20 July before travelling to Brisbane to tackle Australia a week later and returning to face South Africa on 10 August.
Forwards: Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Mayco Vivas, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Javier Diaz, Santiago García Botta, Agustín Creevy, Julián Montoya, Santiago Socino, Juan Figallo, Ramiro Herrera, Santiago Medrano, Enrique Pieretto, Lucio Sordoni, Guido Petti, Tomás Lavanini (pictured), Matías Alemanno, Lucas Paulos, Pablo Matera, Tomás Lezana, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamón.
Backs: Tomás Cubelli, Gonzalo Bertranou, Martín Landajo, Felipe Ezcurra, Nicolás Sanchez, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Domingo Miotti, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Jerónimo de la Fuente, Matías Orlando, Matías Moroni, Lucas Mensa, Juan Cruz Mallía, Bautista Ezcurra, Ramiro Moyano, Bautista Delguy, Sebastián Cancelliere, Emiliano Boffelli, Joaquín Tuculet, Manuel Montero, Santiago Carreras.