Argentina coach Michael Cheika changes five for Springbok clash

FILE - Argentina head coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP

FILE - Argentina head coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP

Published Jul 27, 2023


Argentina coach Michael Cheika has changed five of the line-up that started in an upset win over Australia for a Rugby Championship final-round match against South Africa on Saturday.

In the backline, full-back Juan Cruz Mallia, centre Santiago Chocobares, veteran winger Juan Imhoff and scrum-half Lautaro Bazan Velez have been promoted for the Johannesburg Test.

There is also a positional switch with Mateo Carreras, one of the Pumas' four try scorers in the 34-31 Sydney victory, switching wings to the right to accommodate Imhoff.

Among the backs who have been dropped is full-back Emiliano Boffelli, an outstanding goal-kicker who slotted four conversions and two penalties in Australia two weeks ago.

In the lone change among the forwards for the match at Ellis Park, lock Lucas Paulos replaces Matias Alemanno.

Hooker Julian Montoya retains the captaincy, but his regular understudy and most-capped Puma, Agustin Creevy, will not make his 100th appearance as Ignacio Ruiz takes over the role.

Should New Zealand match expectations and beat struggling Australia in Melbourne earlier on Saturday, they will become Rugby Championship title-holders a ninth time in 11 editions.

Even if the All Blacks draw, it would leave Rugby World Cup title-holders South Africa and Argentina fighting for second place.

New Zealand have nine points, South Africa five, Argentina four and Australia just one from two matches since Eddie Jones returned for a second stint as coach.

South Africa will face Scotland, Romania, Ireland and Tonga in Pool B at the September 8-October 28 World Cup in France while Argentina are with England, Japan, Samoa and Chile in Pool D.

Argentina team:

15, Juan Cruz Mallia; 14, Mateo Carreras, 13, Lucio Cinti, 12, Santiago Chocobares, 11, Juan Imhoff; 10, Santiago Carreras, 9, Lautaro Bazan Velez; 8, Juan Martin Gonzalez; 7, Santiago Grondona; 6, Pablo Matera; 5, Tomas Lavanini; 4, Lucas Paulos; 3, Francisco Gomez Kodela; 2, Julian Montoya (capt); 1, Thomas Gallo

Replacements: Ignacio Ruiz, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Joel Sclavi, Pedro Rubiolo, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Tomas Albornoz, Matias Moroni

Coach: Michael Cheika