NANTES, France (AP) — Fullback Martin Bogado and right winger Rodrigo Isgro will make their Rugby World Cup debuts in Argentina’s reshuffled side for its all-South American contest against Chile on Saturday.
Coach Michael Cheika made 11 changes to his starting XV from the 19-10 win against Samoa last Friday. Flankers Marcos Kremer and Juan Martin Gonzalez — who switches from No. 8 — lock Guido Petti and prop Eduardo Bello retained their spots.
“Isgro had an incredible transition,” Cheika said on Thursday. “Just three months ago he was playing sevens. He is now playing in a World Cup on merit.”
Isgro, who played sevens at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, will try to keep his emotions under control.
“I remember when I was little, jumping on the couch when Los Pumas were playing. Today being here, playing in a World Cup match makes me very happy,” he said. “As far as anxiety goes, obviously I want to get on the pitch on Saturday. … But I feel like I’m controlling and managing it quite well.”
Keeping busy could help that.
“The first people I told were my family. They are on a plane on their way here so I’m going to have them at the ground,” he said. “My lifelong friends and my Pumas Sevens teammates send me messages every day to see how I am, to see if it was my turn to play this weekend. I shared it with all of them.”
Agustin Creevy, Nicolas Sanchez and Tomas Cubelli were also selected in a team loaded with veterans.
The 38-year-old Creevy will equal Mario Ledesma with his 18th World Cup appearance for Argentina at hooker, while the flyhalf Sanchez earns his 100th test cap and has a chance to break his team’s scoring record at the tournament.
“The selection of Nico Sanchez for his 100th cap is very important for him,” Cheika said.
Sanchez is already Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with 872 points and needs 16 more to overtake Gonzalo Quesada as Argentina’s leading all-time scorer at the Rugby World Cup. He will be partnered in the halves by Tomas Cubelli at Stade de la Beaujoire, which is home to French soccer club Nantes.
“This team, with changes especially in the backs, has the merit to play,” Cheika said. “They have the opportunity to play this week, show their ability.”
Juan Imhoff, who has played the past 12 years for French Top 14 club Racing 92, offers a major try-scoring threat from the left wing while center Jeronimo de la Fuente takes over as captain from hooker Julian Montoya and earns his 77th cap.
“He has been training the best I have seen him since we’ve been together. It was only fitting that he had the opportunity,” Cheika said. “It was not planned that it would be in this match, because you have to consider injuries, but for me he is ready to play in a very important match for us.”
Argentina was stifled against England in its opening game 27-10, but was still in contention to reach the quarterfinals with a final Pool D game against Japan to come next Sunday in Nantes. Japan faced Samoa later Thursday in Toulouse.
“As we said after the first game, every week is a final. Our mental approach to this match is very good,” Cheika said. “Now it depends on how they cross the white line on Saturday, the moment when everything we talk about in these press conferences must be demonstrated.”
Chile is looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat in its debut Rugby World Cup. De la Fuente expects them to be fired up.
“Chile are very clear about how they want to play. They are very frontal, they like to play one on one with space,” he said. “Facing a team that knows exactly what it wants to do makes it dangerous.”
Chile coach Pablo Lemoine made eight changes from the England loss.
Javier Carrasco returns at loosehead prop alongside hooker Augusto Bohme and tighthead prop Matias Dittus, who kept their places.
No. 8 Raimundo Martinez and flanker Clemente Saavedra, a lineout specialist, join captain Martin Sigren in the back row.
Argentina will keep an eye on fullback Inaki Ayarza, who has beaten a team-high 11 defenders from 22 carries.
Argentina: Martin Bogado, Rodrigo Isgro, Lucio Cinti, Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Facundo Isa, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Pedro Rubiolo, Guido Petti, Eduardo Bello, Agustin Creevy, Joel Sclavi. Reserves: Ignacio Ruiz, Mayco Vivas, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Matias Alemanno, Joaquin Oviedo, Lautaro Bazan Velez, Santiago Carreras, Juan Cruz Mallia.
Chile: Inaki Ayarza, Santiago Videla, Domingo Saavedra, Matias Garafulic, José Ignacio Larenas, Rodrigo Fernandez, Marcelo Torrealba; Raimundo Martinez, Clemente Saavedra, Martin Sigren (captain), Javier Eissmann, Santiago Pedrero, Matias Dittus, Augusto Bohme, Javier Carrasco. Reserves: Tomas Dussaillant, Salvador Lues, Esteban Inostroza, Augusto Sarmiento, Alfonso Escobar, Ignacio Silva, Nicolas Herreros, Francisco Urroz.
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