The All Blacks selectors have made five changes to their team to play the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday. The biggest talking point is that first five eighth Aaron Cruden who is over his two match team imposed suspension still misses out. Ben Smith is being rested from this dead rubber game with the All Blacks unable to lose the Bledisloe Cup, but with the All Blacks trying to avoid losing two matches in a row for the first time in years, they have mainly included some new faces on the bench rather than in the starting lineup.
Both Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa were found out in defence against the Springboks and get a chance to make amends, while Cruden misses out to the more versatile Colin Slade on the bench. Surely Cruden is too good to miss out on the All Blacks November Internationals squad, with only enough space for three first five eighths likely to leave either Cruden or Slade out in the cold behind Beauden Barrett and the returning Dan Carter.
First choice players Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett and Brodie Retallick return to the starting team, while youngsters like Charles Piutau, TJ Perenara, Sam Cane and Patrick Tuipulotu come onto the bench. Continue reading
The selection policy of Daniel Hourcade in the 2014 Rugby Championship was that of a coach putting faith in his players as a squad more so than a starting XV. Argentina, consequently, had some players rotated depending on the opposition and almost all squad members were given match time. Injuries meant that in addition to the original thirty-man squad two others were ultimately utilized, thus giving Argentina a squad of thirty-two in the four nation tournament. These players are the names expected to be released shortly by Hourcade for the November tests against Scotland, Italy and France. Who, therefore, are the players that could join them? Quite possibly the answer will come not from Europe but from home.
Of the squad named for the Rugby Championship all players except Matías Orlando, Tomás de La Vega and Santiago Cordero received game time. Orlando was forced out with a series injury while De la Vega missed out due to Benjamín Macome recovering from a broken arm in time to fill the void of the injured Pablo Matera and Hourcade determining that Rodrigo Báez and Javier Ortega Desio merited opportunities.
The back-row selection was justified as Báez and Ortega Desio had fine performances in Mendoza. Consequently the selection of a back-rower playing abroad such as Tomás Leonardí (Edinburgh) or Tomás Vallejos Cinalli (Benetton Treviso) is not likely. Even with Pablo Matera injured and Juan Manuel Leguizamón yet to play since getting injured changes to the back-row are highly unlikely. Continue reading
History was made in Panama City on Saturday afternoon as a new nation was crowned CONSUR C champion. The title came after El Salvador defeated the host nation and, the previously undefeated, Guatemala lost against Costa Rica. The tournament was tight as El Salvador’s title was based on points differential as Costa Rica and Guatemala both also won two matches.
Three of the four Central Americans republics involved in the 2014 CONSUR C championship won two out of three matches with Panama being the only winless side. The other three sides were, overall, evenly matched in their performances which meant El Salvador’s title was determined based on a superior for and against record.
Heading into the final round a title for El Salvador appeared unlikely. El Salvador had played well in the second round to defeat Costa Rica 24-14 but had been defeated by Guatemala in the opening round. Indeed it was Guatemala who were well placed to win the title but with Costa Rica winning 22-17 the dream was ended. Continue reading