The Jaguares of Super Rugby took off their face mask and revealed themselves as the Pumas of the Rugby Championship for their opening match against the All Blacks tomorrow.

Argentina named a starting XV that was only two players removed from that which lost the Super Rugby final on July 6 to the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The only change in the forwards was the return of tighthead prop Juan Figallo, fresh off winning another European Champions Cup with English champion Saracens. The only change in the backline was the return of record points-scorer and first-five Nicolas Sanchez, back from Stade Francais.

The players they replaced, Juan Diaz Bonilla and Santiago Medrano, are in the reserves.


As was 53-cap lock Matias Alemanno, who has not played since March because of injury.

Also, Mayco Vivas, a 21-year-old prop, was uncapped, and halfback Felipe Ezcurra could make his Rugby Championship debut.

The captaincy returned to flanker Pablo Matera from Jeronimo De La Fuente, skipper of the Jaguares.

Former Argentina star Marcelo Bosch likes what he sees in the Argentine game on the back of the Jaguares improvement in Super Rugby.

Bosch, who played the last of his 39 tests at the 2015 World Cup and hung his boots up at the end of the northern winter after a trophy-filled stint with English club Saracens, believes the Pumas can avoid another wooden spoon in the southern hemisphere test extravaganza.

"We know that the core of the team [at the Rugby World Cup] will be from the Jaguares and they had an amazing Super Rugby year getting through to the final and I like how they played their rugby as well," Bosch told Sky Sports in the UK.

"They found ways during the tournament [Super Rugby] to win in different ways and that was something they didn't do before perhaps.

"Nowadays they have a superb kicking game, great defence putting pressure on other teams and they still have good individuals with ball in hand.


"So I'm very excited about it plus the value of some players coming from Europe so I'm really looking forward to it."

Bosch made special mention of Pablo Matera being an influential figure as this year plays out.

"For me, nowadays, [the best player] it's Pablo Matera. He's the captain of the national team and even though the Jaguares lost the Super Rugby final, he was the man-of-the-match.

"He had a superb [Super Rugby] tournament. He has everything — physicality and energy and I think that he's a key player for this national team."

Argentina v All Blacks

Buenos Aires, 6.05am tomorrow

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, J De La Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicholas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, J Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera (c), Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Juan Figallo, Agustin Creevy, N Tetaz Chaparro

Reserves: Julian Montoya, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Joaquin Tuculet.

All Blacks: Ben Smith, Sevu Reece, A Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (c), Vaea Fifita, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane, Braydon Ennor.

- AP