Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Ireland v Argentina: Contepomi set to make Pumas bite

Felipe Contepomi will lead out the Pumas on Sunday on his return to Lansdowne Road as Argentina coach Santiago Phelan makes three changes to the side that went down narrowly to France in Montpellier last weekend.

Contepomi was involved in the last match to be played at the old stadium when he came off the bench for Jonathan Sexton in Leinster's 20-12 win over Ulster in December 2006 but it was his Lansdowne Road appearance seven months earlier that everyone remembers.

That was the day the out-half famously imploded as Munster blitzed Leinster in the Heineken Cup semi-final.

On Sunday, the Toulon man will be looking for a more authoritative display as he captains a powerful Argentinian side which features a host of experienced forwards including a front-row of Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma and Martin Scelzo that boasts an average age of just under 35 and starts their 16th match together.

The changes to the team that lost 15-9 to the French see Leicester's Horacio Agulla come onto the right wing in place of Gonzalo Comacho, Biarritz's Marcelo Bosch claim the inside centre slot from Santiago Fernandez and flanker Julio Farias Cabello replace Miguel de Achaval.

Leinster's Mariano Galarza continues in the second row next to Toulouse's Patrique Albacete.

Another name well known to Irish rugby fans is number eight Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, once of Sale, now Toulon.

The Pumas do not tend to pick mugs in their tight five forwards and Galarza is certain to draw on the experience and all-round excellence of Albacete alongside him.

Argentina's backline, Contepomi aside, is more functional than flamboyant.

They are not in the same class, attacking-wise as the Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy and if Ireland can establish a forward platform they have the backline to do damage out wide — as they showed against the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium last weekend.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney names his side at lunchtime today.

ARGENTINA: M Rodriguez (Stade Francais), H Agulla (Leicester Tigers), G Tiesi (Stade Francais), M Bosch (Biarritz), L Gonzalez Amorosino (Leicester), F Contepomi (Toulon, capt), N Vergallo (Toulouse), R Roncero (Stade Francais), M Ledesma (Clermont Auvergne), M Scelzo (Clermont Auvergne), M Galarza (Leinster), P Albacete (Toulouse), G Fessia (Cordoba), J Farías Cabello (Tucuman), JM Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon). Reps: A Creevy (Clermont Auvergne), M Ayerza (Leicester), J Figallo (Montpellier), S Guzman (Stade Francais), A Galindo (Racing Metro), A Lalanne (London Irish), L Borges (Albi).

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