JOHANNESBURG – Argentina have picked prop Juan Figallo for their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Durban on Saturday as they relax a policy of choosing only home-based players.
Figallo from English Premiership club Saracens was not included in the original 36-strong squad named by new coach and former national team hooker Mario Ledesma.
But he was named Thursday as the tighthead prop in a front row completed by loosehead Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and captain and hooker Agustin Creevy.
Since coming fourth at the 2015 World Cup in England, the Pumas have ignored Argentines playing in Europe and based the team around Buenos Aires-based Super Rugby outfit Jaguares.
However, a run of just six victories in 28 internationals, including three humiliating home losses two months ago to weakened Wales and Scotland sides, forced a rethink.
Figallo is one of three changes to the pack that started in a 44-15 drubbing from the Scots in Resistencia.
He replaces loosehead Juan Diaz with Chaparro switching sides and Marcos Kremer and Javier Ortega Desio come into the back row for Tomas Lezana and Leonardo Senatore.
Lezana is among the eight replacements while an injury sidelined veteran Senatore for the clash with the Springboks.
Full-back Emiliano Boffelli, winger Bautista Delguy, inside centre Bautista Ezcurra and fly-half Nicolas Sanchez survive from the starting backline against Scotland.
Ledesma preferred outside centre Matias Moroni, winger Ramiro Moyano and scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou to Matias Orlando, Sebastian Cancelliere and long-serving Martin Landajo.
Landajo, whose half-back partnership with Sanchez was a key factor in the impressive 2015 World Cup run in England, is among the replacements.
A significant change on the bench is uncapped Diego Fortuny getting the nod ahead of long-time reserve hooker Julian Montoya.
The Argentina team is (15-1):
Emiliano Boffelli; Bautista Delguy, Matias Moroni, Bautista Ezcurra, Ramiro Moyano; Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera; Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti; Juan Figallo, Agustin Creevy (capt), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: Diego Fortuny, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Medrano, Tomas Lavanini, Tomas Lezana, Martin Landajo, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Juan Cruz Mallia
Coach: Mario Ledesma (ARG)
Agence France-Presse (AFP)