Argentina v Italy: Teams

At Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan, Saturday June 8, KO 18.40 GMT

Last updated: 8th June 2012  

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Saturday's once-off Test between Argentina and Italy in San Juan is set to give us a glimpse into the future.

With Italy hoping to continue their evolution with a handful of fresh faces on their first tour under Jacques Brunel, and Argentina resting most of their stars for later in the year - the match will provide an insight into the depth of two teams on the fringes of the world rugby's elite.

With the exception of the absence of skipper Sergio Parisse, the Azzurri are embarking on their three-Test tour of the Americas - they will play Canada next before the USA - with a very strong squad.

The first stop will provide Brunel's side their toughest test. Argentina have won the last two fixtures between these sides - in 2008 and 2010 (both played in Italy) - but it will be the visitors who will start as favourites, based purely on the fact they have a near full-strength side.

Brunel has long spoken of his desire to change the way Italy play the game and after a solid start to his era during the 2012 Six Nations, this tour offers the opportunity for some real ground work to be done.

Pack important

Don't expect the Azzurri to change their stripes overnight, however, as their pack will still form the cornerstone of their attack.

The return of flank Mauro Bergamasco to full fitness and form is a boost, while Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni will have fresh legs having started off the bench in the Aviva Premiership semi-final and final. Fly-half Kris Burton has been backed to continue to try and spark the backline.

Argentina by contrast are a bit of an unknown entity. A significant portion of their squad is made up of players who did duty for the Pampas in the Vodacom Cup competition in South Africa, as most the their French-based stars have been rested ahead of the Rugby Championship.

There are just five players in the starting XV with more than ten Test caps, while only Rodrigo Roncero and Felipe Contepomi have played more than 15 international games (in a late change, World Cup lock Esteban Lozada has been ruled out and replaced by Benjamín Macome).

That is not to say the Pumas team will be that weak. Fly-half Ignacio Mieres has been excellent for Exeter this season, becoming one of the first names on the team sheet. And Sale full-back Joaquín Tuculet makes his international debut after a solid year in England.

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Gabriel Ascarate, 12 Felipe Contepomi (c), 11 Agustin Gosio, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Julio Farias-Cabello, 4 Benjamín Macome, 3 Francisco Gomez-Kodela, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Nahuel Tetaz-Chaparro, 18 Santiago Guzmán, 19 Tomas De La Vega, 20 Tomas Cubelli, 21 Manuel Montero, 22 Roman Miralles

Italy: 15 Luke Mclean, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Alberto de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Lorenzo Romano, 18 Joshua Furno, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Tito Tebaldi, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Giulio Toniolatti.

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