Ireland will line out for the first time since winning the RBS 6 Nations title when they take on Argentina in Saturday’s first Test, with silverware on offer in the form of the Admiral William Brown Cup.
SUMMER TOUR – FIRST TEST: Saturday, June 7
ARGENTINA v IRELAND, Estadio Centenario, Resistencia, Chaco, 3.40pm local time/7.40pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 1 HD/IRFU Live Blog)
Team News: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has named the team for the first Test against Argentina in Resistencia. There is one new cap named in the starting line-up with Ulster’s Robbie Diack lining out at blindside flanker against the Pumas.
Diack played for Emerging Ireland in last summer’s Tbilisi Cup and lined out for the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons in January.
There are two further uncapped players on the bench as Connacht duo Kieran Marmion and Rodney Ah You hope to claim their first caps.
The front row sees Jack McGrath win his ninth cap – and second start – alongside hooker Rory Best and Mike Ross.
Captain Paul O’Connell is partnered in the second row by the 22-year-old Iain Henderson, who is the youngest member of the matchday squad alongside Marmion (also 22).
It will be O’Connell’s 100th Test match – 93 appearances for Ireland and seven with the British & Irish Lions. He is the fourth Irishman to play in 100 international games after Brian O’Driscoll (141), Ronan O’Gara (130) and John Hayes (107).
The back row is made up of Ulster team-mates Diack and Chris Henry with Leinster’s Jordi Murphy, who is making his first start at this level, wearing the number 8 jersey.
Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton start at half-back with Luke Marshall and Darren Cave in the centre.
Marshall and Cave are two of the seven Ulstermen in the selected team – their biggest representation in an Irish side since the 2007 Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Scotland.
The back-three is made up of wingers Simon Zebo and Andrew Trimble and Munster’s Felix Jones at full-back. Zebo and Jones are picking up their first caps since last year’s summer tour.
Meanwhile, Castres Olympique prop Ramiro Herrera is the only newcomer in a largely domestic-based Argentina team named to face Ireland in Resistencia.
Ramiro Herrera will make the step up to international rugby just a week after playing in Castres’ Top 14 Championship final defeat to Toulon.
The 25-year-old Herrera, who stands at 6ft 3in and weighs over 19 stone, is one of three overseas players in the team selected by head coach Daniel Hourcade, who was appointed in October.
Nicolás Sánchez, who plays for Bordeaux-Bègles in France, will start at out-half alongside captain Martin Landajo, while lock Manuel Carizza from South African outfit the Stormers is the most experienced player in the squad with 40 caps.
The Argentina team also include four players who have won their first caps during the past year – prop Lucas Noguera Paz and centre Jerónimo de la Fuente made their Test bows last month, with winger Santiago Cordero a debutant last November and lock Tomas Lavanini’s first game coming against South Africa last August.
Hourcade’s charges may lack experience but they have played two recent matches in the South American Championship, running in 10 tries – including four for winger Manuel Montero – during a 65-9 hammering of Uruguay on May 17.
A week later, the Pumas went one better, notching 11 tries as they coasted to a 73-12 win over Chile.
Of the team that started that day in Santiago, full-back Joaquin Tuculet, centre Gabriel Ascarate and the half-backs are retained along with Lavanini in the second row.
ARGENTINA: Joaquin Tuculet (Unattached); Santiago Cordero (Regatas Bella Vista), Jerónimo de la Fuente (Duendes RC), Gabriel Ascarate (Natación y Gimnasia), Manuel Montero (Pucará); Nicolás Sánchez (Bordeaux-Bègles), Martín Landajo (CASI) (capt); Lucas Noguera Paz (Lince RC), Matías Cortese (Liceo RC), Ramiro Herrera (Castres Olympique), Manuel Carizza (Stormers), Tomas Lavanini (Hindú Club), Rodrigo Baez (Liceo RC), Tomás de la Vega (CUBA), Benjamin Macome (Unattached).
Replacements: Julian Montoya (Club Newman), Bruno Postiglioni (La Plata RC), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (La Plata RC), Matías Alemanno (La Tablada), Javier Ortega Desio (Estudiantes de Paraná), Tomás Cubelli (Belgrano Athletic), Santiago González Iglesias (Asociación Alumni), Lucas González Amorosino (Oyonnax).
IRELAND: Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Luke Marshall (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements: Damien Varley (Garryowen/Munster), Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Rodney Ah You (Buccaneers/Connacht), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Television Match Official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Argentina to win: 6/1; Draw: 33/1; Ireland to win: 1/9
Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Ireland) – “There are some really good opportunities for players. Jack McGrath coming in there gave us some continuity from the Six Nations. There was a temptation to start Dave Kilcoyne or Sean Cronin but Jack didn’t play a lot in the Rabo final and gets his second chance to start after starting in November against Samoa, and that gave us a bit of continuity with Mike Ross and Rory Best there.
“Then there is the second row. Iain Henderson gets a start with Paul O’Connell, I think that’s ideal for Iain to get alongside the master and gives Devin Toner a breather and a chance to come off the bench and make an impact.
“Robbie Diack is a very good lineout player. We are expecting his really high work rate to give us a little bit of an edge in the back end of the game.
“Simon (Zebo) is a very talented player…one of the challenges for players is to try make the job easier for players around them. It’s the smaller things that if he is very good in a particular area and it allows us to get quicker ball or it allows us a bit more opportunity not to put so many in the ruck or not to overload defensively – all those manifestations that occur in a game – if you can, as a player, be utterly reliable and deliver all the aspects required of you, people don’t have to double up and double job.
“I’m not talking about Simon here, I’m talking generally, that that’s a challenge for this team. We’ll be looking at Robbie Diack, we’ll be looking at Simon Zebo because we see massive strengths in both those players but we want to see some of the all-round aspects we know we have to be good at.”
Darren Cave (Ireland) – “I feel well prepared, I feel like I deserve the opportunity and it’s up to me now to take it. I can’t blame anyone else.
“Luke Marshall will be alongside me in the midfield, I have played plenty of games alongside him and, yeah, I’ll be slightly nervous, but I’ll be even more excited and I don’t think I have anything to be afraid of.
“While I haven’t played a lot of international rugby, I have played a lot of big club games and I think I’m prepared for this opportunity.
“For a number of us there is a bit of an opportunity to see who is going to replace Brian (O’Driscoll) and thankfully for me, I am going to have the first roll of the dice, the first rattle at it.
“I knew if there was an opportunity this summer that it wasn’t a depleted Ireland team. Now it was sort of disappointing there was a couple of withdrawals (Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls), but I still felt I would have been close to playing anyway.
“This is a great opportunity to play alongside your Sextons, your O’Connells. It’s something I am very excited about.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2008: GUINNESS Series: Ireland 17 Argentina 3, Croke Park
2010: GUINNESS Series: Ireland 29 Argentina 9, Aviva Stadium
2012: GUINNESS Series: Ireland 46 Argentina 24, Aviva Stadium