Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Captain Creevy plots direct course

Agustin Creevy has never regretted his move to hooker. Photo / Getty Images
Agustin Creevy has never regretted his move to hooker. Photo / Getty Images

The Pumas have their version of Keven Mealamu.

Agustin Creevy has not gone past a century of tests but is building a strong playing profile as a captain and hooker in Argentina's latest quest to pinch a victory against the All Blacks.

Creevy has only been a hooker for six years after playing age-group rugby, like Mealamu as a looseforward. He played as a flanker for the Pumas under 21 side and claimed several full caps in that role as well.

However when Creevy was first contracted to play in Europe and failed to get much playing time, he was advised he would have much more success if he changed roles to hooker.

At a squat 1.81m and 110kg, Creevy has the shape, ball skills and mobility needed in the modern role.

"It was a huge decision but one I've never regretted," he said this year.

Creevy became understudy to the skilled and durable Mario Ledesma but chances to start in tests were wrecked through shoulder and rib injuries.

He was a strong understudy to Ledesma in every test during the Pumas last World Cup campaign.

He has a long history with coach Daniel Hourcade during their time with Argentina B and when Hourcade was promoted to test coach to quell persistent problems last season, he asked Creevy to lead the squad.

With Hourcade, the Pumas made intensive efforts to get a stronger unison about their squad plans and programmes and held a two-week pre-season camp in Florida to build their fitness and rapport.

The coach also split his selections between home-based players, who have graduated from competition in the Pacific and Vodacom Cups, and those who are contracted to clubs in France and England.

Argentina have yet to win a test in the Rugby Championship, however they put the Springboks under huge pressure in the rain at Pretoria, then in the heat at La Plata.

The Pumas name their side today to square off with the All Blacks in Napier. Several changes are expected. Injured flanker Pablo Matera has to be replaced with Leonardo Senatore likely to slot into a rejigged backrow with Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Lively wing Juan Imhoff is fit again and the staff will be keen to use his experience in conditions which are likely to be testing at McLean Park on Saturday.

- NZ Herald

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