Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has chosen Marcos Kremer at lock as he looks to go toe-to-toe with South Africa’s powerful forwards in their Rugby Championship opener against the world champion Springboks in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday.
Ledesma believes the forward battle will be crucial and has opted for the power of Kremer alongside Guido Petti in the second row, leaving Tomas Lavanini and Matias Alemanno among the replacements.
“There is a saying in Argentina that the forwards win the game and the backs decide by how much. The forward battle will be crucial, we are confident about our pack and I am excited to see the challenge on the field,” Ledesma told reporters in naming his side on Thursday.
The front row of the scrum is made up of Tetaz Chaparro and Gomez Kodela, with captain Julian Montoya at hooker. Flankers Facundo Isa and Pablo Matera join number eight Rodrigo Bruni in the back row.
Felipe Ezcurra has been chosen at scrumhalf in the place of the injured Tomas Cubelli, getting the nod ahead of Gonzalo Bertranou, who is on the bench. Ezcurra will partner the vastly experienced Nicolas Sanchez in the half-back pairing.
Matias Moroni is on the wing along with Bautista Delguy, with Santiago Carreras at full-back. Santiago Chocobares and Jereonimo De La Fuente make up the centre pairing.
Uncapped prop Carlos Muzzio has been named on the bench, along with American-born wing Sebastian Cancelliere, who last played for The Pumas against South Africa in the 24-18 loss in Pretoria in August 2019.
Ledesma is expecting a tough and physical contest, adding that suggestions that the Boks play ‘boring’ rugby are wide of the mark.
“South Africa is South Africa, they have an identity that is really strong. A team that is world champions and just won the series against the British & Irish Lions,” he said.
“They are doing their thing very well. It is very subjective to talk about what is boring or not.”
15-Santiago Carreras, 14-Bautista Delguy, 13-Santiago Chocobares, 12-Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11-Matias Moroni, 10-Nicolas Sanchez, 9-Felipe Ezcurra, 8-Rodrigo Bruni, 7-Facundo Isa, 6-Pablo Matera, 5-Marcos Kremer, 4-Guido Petti, 3-Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2-Julian Montoya (captain), 1-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16-Facundo Bosch, 17-Carlos Muzzio, 18-Santiago Medrano, 19-Tomas Lavanini, 20-Matias Alemanno, 21-Gonzalo Bertranou, 22-Domingo Miotti, 23-Sebastian Cancelliere.