BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – Loose-forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon will follow a select group of Argentines to have played in four Rugby World Cup finals after he was named in the country’s 31-man squad for next month’s tournament in Japan.
The 36-year-old, who made his international debut in 2005, will join Felipe Contepomi, Agustin Pichot and Argentina coach Mario Ledesma as the only players from the South American nation to have achieved the feat.
Experienced flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, the country’s leading points-scorer, is one of three overseas-based players included in the selection. The Stade Francais flyhalf is joined by fellow pivot Benjamin Urdapilleta from Castres and Saracens prop Juan Figallo.
“We always said that we would take the best and that players based overseas would add value. The squad (includes) players that added value both on and off the field,” Ledesma said in a statement on Monday.
“From day one, we said we’d give priority to the players based in Argentina. That was our selection criteria and it was very clear for everybody.”
The majority of the squad, which has 17 forwards and 14 backs, is made up from Jaguares, who were beaten finalists in Super Rugby this season.
Pucara centre Lucas Mensa, who debuted in Saturday’s 24-18 loss to South Africa in Pretoria, also made the cut.
Joaquin Tuculet recently returned to the side for the first time in 18 months after injury and is one of three fullbacks along with Emiliano Boffelli and Santiago Carreras, who also earned his first cap at the weekend.
Ledesma has included only two specialist scrumhalves in Tomas Cubelli and Felipe Ezcurra.
The side will be captained by flank Pablo Matera, who took over this season from hooker Agustin Creevy.
The squad will travel to Sydney on Aug 30, where they will continue their preparations and play a friendly with the Randwick Club. They will arrive at their Fukushima base in Japan on Sept 10.
Saturday’s defeat for Argentina was their ninth in succession. They have won only eight of 41 tests since the 2015 World Cup, when they were semi-finalists in England.
Argentina have been drawn in Pool C in Japan with England, France, United States and Tonga, and will open their campaign against the French at the Tokyo Stadium on Sept. 21.
Forwards: Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo, Mayco Vivas, Agustin Creevy, Julian Montoya, Santiago Socino, Juan Figallo, Santiago Medrano, Enrique Pieretto, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lezana, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamon.
Backs: Tomas Cubelli, Felipe Ezcurra, Nicolas Sanchez, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Lucan Mensa, Juan Cruz Mallia, Ramiro Moyano, Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli, Joaquin Tuculet, Santiago Carreras.
(Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)