Argentina coach Michael Cheika picks experienced team to face the All Blacks in Mendoza.

After a first season of the new cycle with positive feelings, Los Pumas are now ready to take the first step in the second season with Michael Cheika as head coach. 

This Saturday (July 8) against the All Blacks, in the city of Mendoza, will be the start of the 2023 Rugby Championship, but it will also be the beginning of a calendar that includes the biggest challenge: the World Cup.

As happens in every World Cup year, the great tournament of the powers of the Southern Hemisphere serves as an instance of adjustments, and beyond that purpose, the requirement to show the best possible version is always present. The commitment to the New Zealanders at the Malvinas Argentina Stadium represents a major requirement, and in this context, the Argentine national team will not present substantial changes compared to the last performance, almost eight months ago in Scotland. 

The structure of the team remains the same, with Emiliano Boffelli, the only one with perfect ownership in the Cheika cycle, and with Santiago Carreras, Matías Moroni and Juan Martín González, the others who acted in the 12 test-matches of 2022.

A particularity is the reappearance in the national team of Lucio Sordoni, that he will wear the Argentine shirt again after 32 months; The last performance in the Argentine team of the pillar formed in Atlético del Rosario, was on November 28, 2020, against New Zealand, in the city of Newcastle. For Sordoni, who was away from the action for about 14 months due to a series of injuries, it will be his first test in the Michael Cheika era.

And the other unique fact is that, with his presence against the New Zealanders, Gonzalo Bertranou will reach the special mark of 50 caps in his native land with the Argentine team. 

Of the 887 players who played a test with Los Pumas throughout history (from 1910 to the present), only 42 of them reached or exceeded the barrier of 50 international matches. In addition, the scrum-half who emerged from Los Tordos is the second player from Mendoza with the most appearances in the national team, behind the front row Federico Méndez, who played 73 test-matches (between 1990 and 2004).

The kick-off of the match against the All Blacks will be at 4:10 p.m., and the line-up of Los Pumas for the debut of the season at the Malvinas Argentinas Stadium, in Mendoza, will be as follows:

15. Emiliano Boffelli
14. Bautista Delguy
13. Natias Moroni
12. Lucio Cinti
11. Mateo Carreras
10. Santiago Carreras
9. Gonzalo Bertranou
8. Rodrigo Bruni
7. Juan Martin Gonzalez
6. Pablo Matera
5. Tomas Lavanini
4. Natias Alemanno
3. Lucio Sordoni
2. Julian Montoya (captain)
1. Thomas Gallo

Replacement: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Mayco Vivas, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Pedro Rubiolo, 20. Santiago Grondona, 21. Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22. Nicolas Sanches, 23. Matias Orlando

(Article courtesy of UAR)