Rugby Championship Hub: Ledesma names 13 Jaguares into first Pumas XV to meet NZ

The Rugby Championship
by RUGBY.com.au staff

The first weekend of the Rugby Championship is upon us and there's some fascinating lineups coming through already.

Check out our Rugby Championship Hub for all of the team info, odds and kick-off times for thisweekend.

SCHEDULE

Sunday July 20

1:05am - South Africa vs Australia, Ellis Park, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo

4:05am - Argentina vs New Zealand, Jose Amalfitani Stadium, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo

SOUTH AFRICA vs AUSTRALIA

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says Australia's strongest available side has been picked for this weekend's clash with South Africa with his team needing to "earn everything" in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup.

Rebels no. 8 Isi Naisarani is the only debutant in the starting side but the XV looks very different to its last outing, with just 10 of the 23 from their 2018 season-ending match against England named to play South Africa.

A host of players are missing from the Wallabies side with injuries including props Scott Sio (adductor), Tom Robertson (ankle) and Allan Alaalatoa (foot), with Waratahs rookie Harry Johnson-Holmes a shock inclusion off the bench.

James Slipper and Nic White both return from long Test absences to start , while Brumbies fullback Tom Banks has been rewarded for a career-best season with the starting fullback spot.

Nic White in action at Wallabies camp. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWhite has won a start over Will Genia, in what will be his first Wallabies appearance since 2015 and Cheika said he had proven his desire since coming into camp.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus says he expects Australia to treat Saturday's Rugby Championship opener as a "must-win" after a lean 2018 season.

With a host of players travelling to New Zealand early ahead of their second Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks, South Africa has named a team missing some of its biggest names to take on the Wallabies.

Stormers second rower Etzebeth takes the captaincy from the injured Siya Kolisi (knee) hooker Malcolm Marx and flyhalf Handre Pollard are among those absent from the team.

Erasmus has named three potential debutants for the clash with France-based flanker Rynhardt Elstadt and halfback Herschel Jantjies in the starting team and Bulls loosehead Lizo Gqoboka on the bench.

With just four wins from 13 Tests last year, including just one win from three Spring Tour Tests, Erasmus said Australia would likely approach this as a Test they simply had to win.

TEAMS

South Africa to face Australia

Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (captain, DHL Stormers), Lood de Jager (Vodacom Bulls), Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse, France), Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), André Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks), Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Bulls). Reserves: Schalk Brits (Vodacom Bulls), Lizo Gqoboka (Vodacom Bulls), Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), Marvin Orie (Emirates Lions), Marcell Coetzee (Ulster, Ireland), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, England), Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France), Dillyn Leyds (DHL Stormers)

Australia to face South Africa

James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani, Nic White, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tom Banks. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Jack Dempsey, Will Genia, Matt To'omua, Kurtley Beale

REFEREES

Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Carley (RFU

Assistant Referee 2: Karl Dickson 

TMO: Rowan Kitt

ODDS

South Africa - $1.48

Australia - $2.65

ARGENTINA vs NEW ZEALAND

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma on Thursday named 13 players from beaten Super Rugby finalists the Jaguares in his team to face New Zealand in the Rugby Championship this weekend.

Only Stade Francais fly-half Nicolas Sanchez and Saracens prop Juan Figallo did not start the Jaguares' 19-3 defeat to New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch.

But while All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has decided to rest eight Crusaders stars and name five uncapped players in his 23-man matchday squad, Ledesma is looking to harness the momentum of the free-flowing Jaguares in search of a first ever win over the three-time world champions.

"Our main aim is to give the guys the opportunity to express themselves in the best possible way," said Ledesma in explaining his selection.

"In that sense, the guys who've come here with the recent (momentum) of the Jaguares are the priority.

"And then there's guys who've come from abroad, they have to be physically ready to give their all against the All Blacks and bring their experience, so it's a mixture of the two.

"But the (Jaguares) guys are already familiar with the system."

It's an experienced line-up from Ledesma, with 10 players boasting at least 40 caps.

New Zealand have named five uncapped players in their matchday 23 for their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina this weekend.

Crusaders duo Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor, backrower Luke Jacobson, prop Atu Moli and flyhalf Josh Ioane are all in the mix to earn their Test debut.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the weekend was a chance to see how some new faces blended with the more familiar.

As always, with the first game of the season, we've worked hard on building our relationships, re-establishing our connections and combinations and getting clarity in our roles. We'll continue to nail the details further in training throughout the week so that we are bright, clear and excited to play with real intensity come Saturday," Hansen said.

"It's going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform along with their more experienced teammates.  The team is a mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm, which I'm sure everyone is looking forward to seeing come together and play."

TEAMS

Argentina to face New Zealand

Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy, Juan Figallo, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Ramiro Moyano, Jeronmio de la Fuente, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Emiliano Boffelli. Reserves: Julian Montoya, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Joaquin Tuculet. 

New Zealand to face Argentina

Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles, Angus Ta'avao, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Sam Cane - captain, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown,  Sevu Reece, Ben Smith. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane, Braydon Ennor

REFEREES

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant Referee: Andrew Brace

Assistant Referee: Alex Ruiz

TMO: Graham Hughes

ODDS

Argentina - $5.00

New Zealand - $1.15