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Team Preview: The Jaguares

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allblacks.com     01 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Home: Jose Amalfitani, Club Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
Last Season: 10th

Squad:
Agustin Creevy, Bautista Delguy, Bautista Ezcurra, Benjamin Macome, Diego Fortuny, Emiliano Boffelli, Felipe Arregui, Felipe Ezcurra, Franco Brarda, Gonzalo Bertranou, Guido Petti Pagadizaval, Javier Manuel Diaz, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Joaquin Tuculet, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Leonardo Senatore, Marcos Kremer, Martin Jandajo, Matias Alemanno, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Nicolas Leiva, Nicolas Sanchez, Pablo Matera, Ramiro Moyano, Rodrigo Bruni, Santiago Alvarez, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Santiago Montagner, Sebastian Cancelliere, Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Lavanini.

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Game breaker:
Fullback Joaquin Tuculet remains a key influence for the side, especially with his ability on the break. While he has only 11 appearances for Jaguares, he does have 51 Tests for Argentina since 2012 where he has 16 tries to his credit. But he brings vast exposure having had stints with Sale, Grenoble, Bordeaux and the Cardiff Blues before returning to Argentina. There is little doubt that if the Jaguares pack can secure consistent and high quality ball for their backline there is the ability among the unit to pressure most sides in the competition and Tuculet is one of their most elusive players.

Key signing: 

Thomas Cubelli's return from time with the Brumbies will create pressure at halfback where Martin Landajo is a solid performer. But having had exposure to other Super Rugby thinking, Cubelli will be in a position to vary the game plan from that usually applied by the Jaguares. He is a dangerous runner with a good pass and if able to remain free of injury he has plenty to offer the side both on the field and off.

Returning veteran:

Juan Martin Hernandez may be hitting the upper level in the age department at 35 years of age but he has plenty to offer the Jaguares as a settling influence in the backline. Knowing 'when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em' is a key asset in any side and Hernandez with his 35 games in Super Rugby and his 74 Test matches, not to forget 123 games for Stade Francais and 75 for Racing Metro, is perfectly equipped to command the unit and unleash its undoubted attacking qualities while also engineering the all-important defensive capacity.

The Scoop:
It won't be too much to expect an improved season from the Jaguares in 2018. Mario Ledesma has come on board as coach and has already made a mark in the side's pre-season build-up, placing a great emphasis on improving the combinations between backs and forwards, something that Cubelli will have a key role in achieving. He has opted for a change of captain with flanker Pablo Matera replacing hooker Agustin Creevy in the role with Joaquin Tuculet and Tomas Lezana as vice captains. A 46-Test cap veteran, Matera will be expected to shape a side to be more competitive than has been achieved in their three campaigns to date. His stated goal is to keep the side motivated, united and positive and if he can do that then the results should follow.