Phelan keen for Irish scalp to round off hectic year for Argentina
Published 23/11/2012 | 05:00
THERE was a time when Argentina could rock up here with a legitimate chip on their shoulder.
They were in a 'no lose' situation. All year, they could stew on their continuing exile from rugby's top table and, come the autumn internationals, they unleash all that frustration.
If they bloodied a few noses, they were heroes, if they lost, well, what chance did they stand?
With the Rugby Championship now available to them, that sense of exclusion that provided easy motivation for the South Americans is now gone.
To find that fire and brimstone, especially at the tail end of the most hectic calendar year in their history – they have played 11 games – is a challenge they have never faced before.
With that in mind, Santiago Phelan has made four changes to his side from the one that went down swinging against France in Lille last week.
The major change is the return of their 'Rolls Royce' Juan Martin Hernandez to full-back in place of Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
His performance against Ireland in the 2007 World Cup means he'll need little introduction to many of the Ireland team.
"He is a very important player for us," head coach Santiago Phelan said of the Racing Metro man. "He is a leader in the group and a top class player."
The other changes are necessitated by agreements with various clubs and the need to freshen up the team.
Santiago Fernandez takes his regular place at inside centre with Marcelo Bosch moving to 13. Gonzalo Tiesi drops to the bench.
Exeter Chiefs' Gonzalo Camacho, a try scorer against Wales, returns to the wing in place of Horacio Agulla.
And Cian Healy will have noted the inclusion of the uncapped Maximiliano Bustos, who takes the place of Juan Figallo, at tight-head.
"I'm very happy with how the team is improving game by game," Phelan said.
"It was a huge year with a of of games from June to the Rugby championship, which was very good for us. And now here in November, it is a great chance for the team to grow.
"We started well against Wales and it wasn't so good against France. So now we want to finish the tour in a good way against Ireland. They are a very good team and we have never won here in our history.
"We think this is the best team for this weekend."
ARGENTINA – J M Hernandez; G Camacho, M Bosch, S Fernandez, J Imhoff; N Sanchez, M Landajo; M Ayerza, E Guinazu, M Bustos; M Carizza, J Faria Cabello; J Lobbe (capt), J Leguizamon, L Senatore. Reps: A Creevy, N Lobo, F Kodela, T Cinalli, T Leonardi, N Vergallo, G Tiesi, M Montero.