Cubelli a greater weapon after Brumbies stint

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Argentina’s Tomas Cubelli is a different player after two years in Australia, teammate Pablo Matera says.

Cubelli is set to join Argentinian Super Rugby side the Jaguares in 2018, after two seasons with the Brumbies, and is likely to start at scrumhalf for the Pumas on Saturday night against Australia.

The 28-year-old was one of the best for the Canberra side in his first year, before a knee injury cut short his second season.

While he won't be sharing any trade secrets, Matera said Cubelli's improvement was a boost enough for the Pumas.

“He doesn't tell us much but I know he has improved a lot since he came here and two years ago, he was a different player from what he is now,” he said.

“He has learned a lot about Australian rugby and he's a much more complete player now and that's been awesome for us as a team.”

The Pumas have the luxury this week of relative familiarity with the Australian players across the board, having crossed over with the Aussie Super Rugby franchises for the first time as the Jaguares.

They found some success in that realm too, beating the Rebels and the Waratahs on the road.

Matera said that would definitely help the Pumas this week, with the vast majority of the squad coming from the Jaguares side.

“They're great players and even though it's not the same, we get to know some players that are key in the Wallabies, like Foley and Hooper and I think that's a little bit of an advantage that we didn't have last week with the All Blacks,” he said.

Though the Jaguares finished outside the Super Rugby playoffs and the Pumas are down to 10th in the world rankings, they pushed the All Blacks in New Plymouth last weekend, leading midway through the second half.

Matera said he was expecting a fast start from the Wallabies, something Argentina will have to match if they want to replicate their effort across the ditch.

“I know they need to win, same as us, it's going to be a really difficult match,” he said.

“We have been watching something about them, their attack - (Bernard) Foley, Kurtley Beale, how they distribute the ball and they play that really fast, really quick.

“The first minutes of the game are really intense and I believe if we manage to do a really good first half, like we do last week, I think we'll have a lot of chances to win the game.”

Matera said they were looking long-term with their focus, with one eye on the 2019 World Cup.

“We know it's a long way to the World Cup but we've made a lot of changes in our game,” he said.

“We knew we were not going to have the best year in Super Rugby last year, this year, next year.

“We know that if we change things, four years we're going to form a really strong team and we're going to have a good a World Cup.”

Australia takes on Argentina on Saturday night, kicking off at 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO.