|Tomás Lavanini - A third 20 year old could start against the Springboks|
What has been a less than ideal seven days for Argentine rugby just got worse with confirmation that Argentina will have to face arguably the world´s best secondrow without its two starting players in the same position. Joining Patricio Albacete on the injured list is Manuel Carizza. The former Biarritz and Racing Métro secondrower has failed to recover from an injured shoulder sustained in the 73-13 defeat against the Springboks at Soccer City last Saturday. Replacing him in the Puams squad for this weeknds match in Mendoza is not Tomás Vallejos Cinalli nor Esteban Lozada but rather 20 year old Pumita Tomás Lavanini.
Having impressed for Argentine at junior level in the IRB Junior World Championship Lavanini is rapidly appearing as a player likely to be in the team at Rugby World Cup 2015. Like Pablo Matera, Lavanini was a stand out player earlier this year in France and he also played for Argentina in the South American Championship. He debuted against Uruguay on April 27 and scored a match in his second, and most recent, test against Brazil several days later. He could have featured for Argentina against England and Georgia in June but was instead playing at junior level much the same as Matera, Matías Díaz and other players certain to be Pumas in no time - Santiago Cordero and Patricio Fernández. Such is the stock of young players emergining that there is reason to believe that come 2019 Argentina could have a real shot at the World Cup. 2015, however, appears closer to the campiagn of 2011 than 2007 at this point in time.
While Lavanini has replaced Carizza in the squad it remains unknown as to who will be the starting secondrowers. Lavanini earned himself a reputation as being an outstanding ball carrier and powerful operator in the scrums. Questions have been raised over the effectiveness of Julio Farías Cabello for Argentina as a secondrower due to him lacking the weight of the likes of Albacete and Carizza. Indeed, despite only being 20 years of age Lavanini is a solid player weighing 118KG and also standing 2 metres tall. Farías Cabello is 1.94m in height and weighs 110KG. The squads other specialist secondrower is Mariano Galarza who is 2.03 metres tall and weighs 115KG. Lavanini, in other words, is the heaviest secondrower in the squad for the Mendoza test and could very well be considered to start the test.
Lavanini is also much younger than Farías Cabello. The Tucumán backrower who was used as the starting number 6 in the 2012 Rugby Championship will turn 35 in September. Farías Cabello was overtaken by Matera for the Soccer City test and is now firmly in the squad as a secondrower. The concern of the scrum could go against him even though Lavanini is very inexperienced. But age aside, Lavanini is a player making a name of himself where it matters most. While details have not been made public it is no secret that Lavanini has agreed to terms to play Super Rugby for the 2012 and 2013 champions, the Chiefs.
The UAR is yet to confirm the status of Eusebio Guiñazú, Marcos Ayerza and Juan Martín Hernández though indications are that Ayerza should be fit while Hernández siad on social media that he feels ready and just needs the doctors to agree. Should Ayerza return then the retreating Pumas scrum could well be over.