Pumas, Wallabies playing money match at Twickenham
LONDON (AP) — Almost a year after playing out a tense Rugby World Cup semifinal, Argentina and Australia are back at Twickenham on Saturday in the first Rugby Championship match outside the southern hemisphere.
Both unions agreed to shift the match because they need the millions they could pocket if their teams fill 82,000-seat Twickenham, which has twice as many seats as the original venue in Mendoza.
But, unlike at the Rugby World Cup, both teams haven't done enough to make the last-round match a can't-miss affair.
New Zealand won the championship with two rounds to spare, and the Pumas and Wallabies are also-rans in the bottom half of the standings.
Last weekend, the Pumas didn't come close to the All Blacks at home, while the Wallabies failed in South Africa to turn their domination into enough points.
Australia coach Michael Cheika said the chance to finish second in the championship was irrelevant to the more important chance to restock the team. Queensland back-rower Leroy Houston, on loan at Bath, could become the 11th Australian to make his Wallabies debut this year if he comes off the reserves.
"It's pretty clear we're going through a generational change," Cheika said. "We understand that our challenge in Australian rugby is to build more depth. But we're not going to cry about it, talking about losing players overseas. We won't whinge about a lack of depth - we'll go out and make that depth instead.
"That said, winning matches is what it's all about. No one cares about second - I can't remember who was in the World Cup final, I only remember that New Zealand won it."
The feature of his selection was dropping James Slipper, Australia's most-capped prop with 82, from the reserves and replacing him with Tom Robertson, who can prop on both sides and was much younger.
Meanwhile, the Pumas had to drop influential flyhalf Nicholas Sanchez (right ankle and knee) and winger Manuel Montero (left leg) after they failed fitness tests on Friday.
Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias moved from No. 12 to No. 10, Jeronimo de la Fuente took over at inside center, and Ramiro Moyano remained on the left wing where he started against the All Blacks. Losing Sanchez, the Pumas' main kicker, was a blow, and Gonzalez Iglesias has 27 caps, but none as a starting flyhalf in the championship.
The Pumas lost to Australia in that World Cup semifinal 29-15, their errors giving the Wallabies a two-try start in the first 10 minutes. The Wallabies got away again in Perth last month, going up 21-0 within 12 minutes. The lesson must eventually be learned by the Pumas.
"We want to put things right from those two games," captain Agustin Creevy said. "So revenge is definitely in the mind, and we're not afraid of that."
Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Martin Landajo; Leonardo Senatore, Javier Ortega Desio, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy (captain), Lucas Noguera. Reserves: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Cubelli, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Gabriel Ascarate, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Australia: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Lopeti Timani, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (captain), Scott Sio. Reserves: James Hanson, Tom Robertson, Allan Ala'alatoa, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Leroy Houston, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani.