Argentina without key playmaker for Wallabies clash

Coach Michael Cheika has made nine changes to Argentina as they prepare to host Australia in the Rugby Championship clash in Mendoza on Saturday.

Veteran flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez returned to training this week but was ruled out when a nagging calf injury flared up.

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“It’s very sad. It’s the same situation that happened during the international window with Scotland,” Australian-born Cheika said.

Sanchez had begun the first Test against Scotland – a 26-18 victory – but was forced off midway through the first half with a calf tear and has not played for the Pumas since.

“Nico is a very important player for this team and as his coach I have to take responsibility for a repeat injury,” said Cheika, adding that Sanchez needed more treatment and time to recover.

Santiago Carreras remains at 10 for the game on Saturday, partnered with recalled scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli, who injured a thigh in the warm-ups to the first Scotland Test and missed the series.

There is an entirely new front row from the team that started against Scotland last month in the decisive third Test, won 34-31 by the Pumas thanks to a last-gasp Emiliano Boffelli try.

Captain Julian Montoya and props Francisco Gomez Kodela and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro come in for Agustin Creevy, Tomas Gallo and Joel Scalvi.

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Marcos Kremer replaces Facundo Isa in the back row with Juan Martin Gonzalez picked ahead of Santiago Grondona at lock.

Boffelli remains on the left wing but Santiago Cordero replaces Bautista Delguy on the right flank. Jeronimo De La Fuente comes in at inside center instead of Matias Moroni.

“There’s a lot of competition going on inside the team and it’s up to us to try to select the best team,” said Cheika.

Argentina host the Wallabies in Mendoza on Saturday before both sides move to San Juan for another Pumas home match the following weekend.

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Argentina  – 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno; 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Moroni.

Photo: Getty Images

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