The first ever Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia kicks off in less than a week from now, and we run the rule over the major teams participating in this tournament. This World Cup in Japan promises to be the most open ever, with several sides having more than just a decent shot at lifting the Webb Ellis trophy come November 2.
New Zealand (Odds 5/4)
The All Blacks have dominated rugby for most part of this decade like no other team and have two World Cups (2011 and 2015) to show for their efforts. They’ll be looking to pick up their third consecutive title in Japan, and most pundits have them as favourites to do so.
That being said, there are some weaknesses that appear to have crept into the All Blacks game over the last year or so. They’ve never quite managed to find a replacement for Jerome Kaino at 6, and that has forced coach Steve Hansen to go for a loose trio of Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and skipper Kieran Read. Neither Savea nor Cane are traditional blindsides per se, but after trying out the likes of Liam Squire, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell and Jackson Hemopo, Hansen has come to the conclusion that the Savea-Cane-Read trio is his best back row.
Cane has returned to international rugby this year after a long spell on the sidelines with a neck injury. Read isn’t quite the No.8 he was a few years ago, but Hansen has stayed loyal to his captain. His position is also one of the rare ones where the All Blacks haven’t groomed a capable backup, which has also helped his cause.
Lock Brodie Retallick will not feature in the group stages because of his shoulder injury, but such is the Chiefs star’s importance that Hansen didn’t have second thoughts before putting him on the plane to Japan.
The coach has also chosen to leave out long serving tighthead Owen Franks, with the latter’s lack of mobility around the park the apparent reason for his axing.
On to the backs, and like his back row, Hansen has made another major change this year- putting Crusaders pivot Richie Mo’unga at 10 and shifting two-time IRB World Player of the Year flyhalf Beauden Barrett to 15. The position of Ben Smith, one of the most consistent All Blacks of this decade, is also under threat. Smith, who used to be equally adept at playing both wing and fullback, has lost a bit of pace, which means he’s no longer a shoo-in at 14. With Hansen wanting both Mounga and Barrett on the pitch, 15 is apparently not an option for the Highlanders captain. Left winger Rieko Ioane is also experiencing a Julian Savea-sque loss in form, and the Crusaders duo of George Bridge and Sevu Reece were fantastic in the All Blacks’ last two tests against the Wallabies and Tonga, adding to the selectors’ headaches.
At centre, Hansen has chosen the experience of Sonny-Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty, despite the duo’s worrying injury record, ahead of the younger and more dynamic Ngani Laumape. There is also no recognised third flyhalf in the squad, with Jordie Barrett, TJ Perenara and Crotty expected to fill in if required.
Then there is Luke Jacobson, the versatile young Baby Black, who was a surprise inclusion in the original squad, but was ruled out of the tournament due to concussion after picking up a head knock in the warm-up against Tonga.
All in all, Hansen’s squad isn’t looking as settled it was at the beginning of this World Cup cycle, and teams have the belief that the All Blacks can be beaten, with South Africa, Ireland and Australia all having done so in the last fifteen months.
Key player: Ardie Savea- The Hurricanes openside has taken his game to another level in the last couple of seasons and effectively forced himself into the starting XV, with Hansen deciding that he was too good to be left on the bench. He was the best performing forward in Super Rugby this year and will be key to the All Blacks’ chances of a three-peat.
New Zealand World Cup 2019 Squad
Backs: Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Sevu Reece, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber.
Forwards: Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Matt Todd, Shannon Frizell, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman
South Africa (Odds 4/1)
Two years ago, the Springboks were at the receiving end of a 57-0 thrashing from the All Blacks in Albany. Coetzee’s men had also lost to Italy in November 2016, and so bad were South Africa under him that the All Blacks had effectively demoted their biggest foes to the smaller stadium in Albany rather than playing them at Eden Park, as tradition would normally dictate.
Coetzee’s struggles forced SARU to show him the door and send a SOS call to Rassie Erasmus. The former Munster coach appears to have engineered a remarkable turn-around in the eighteen months he’s been in charge, with the Boks claiming their first Rugby Championship of the decade this year. They beat the All Blacks in Wellington in 2018 and followed it up with a draw this year at the same venue.
Under Erasmus, South Africa have gone back to their traditional strengths- a big, muscular forward pack and a solid No.10 in Handre Pollard. The Bulls flyhalf may not quite have the metronomic boot of Morne Steyn, but he always almost manages to nail difficult pressure kicks- like the injury time conversion against the All Blacks this year being a prime example, and offers a greater threat on attack. The return of Jacques Nienaber has had a massive influence too, with the Springboks defence a vastly improved one to the leaking sieve they were under Coetzee.
In terms of selection, there weren’t too many surprises in Erasmus’ final 31. In fact, one could probably say that it was the least controversial Springbok World Cup squad in many years, with most players effectively picking themselves.
Ulster’s Marcell Coetzee would’ve probably made the squad, but for injury, and likewise for talismanic Lions eighthman Warren Whiteley. Star winger Aphiwe Dyantyi will not be on the plane to Japan after testing positive for drugs. Nevertheless, it remains a very formidable Springbok squad, and possesses two world-class front rows and plenty of tireless, hard-working forwards. They also have a World Cup winner in the form of Frans Steyn, the versatile centre who lifted the 2007 trophy as a 20-year-old.
Speaking of potential weaknesses, Pieter-Steph du Toit is one of the world’s form blindsides and possesses an unparalleled work rate, but an injury to the Stormers flanker could affect the balance of the back row. Faf de Klerk is world-class at scrumhalf, but the two behind him- Herschel Jantjies and Cobus Reinach, aren’t quite in that class yet.
Willie Le Roux has blown hot and cold in recent months, but there’s no real competitor to him at full back. Sbu Nkosi is arguably a better wing than Makazole Mapimpi, but including the Sharks 14 would necessitate a switch for Cheslin Kolbe to 11, which Erasmus might be reluctant to do so, given the Toulouse star’s success on the right wing.
Key player: The likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Faf de Klerk and Pollard are important to Erasmus’ plans, but watch out for Kolbe. The former Stormers star’s international career has really taken off after a move to France. What he lacks in height, he makes up in heart and skill. Kolbe kept Rieko Ioane quiet in Wellington earlier this year, and possesses plenty of x-factor going forward with his speed and elusiveness- perhaps the Springbok most likely to create something out of nothing,
South Africa’s opening clash with New Zealand is a massive, massive game. Win that fixture, and the Boks will potentially avoid Ireland- who’ve given them plenty of trouble in the last few years, in the quarters. With New Zealand missing Brodie Retallick, the Boks will definitely fancy their chances in Yokohama. While no Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship winner has gone on to lift the World Cup in the same year, victory over the All Blacks will put the Boks on the easier side of the draw and give them a serious chance of bagging a third world title following previous triumphs in 1995 and 2007.
Springboks RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Willie le Roux, Warrick Gelant, Cheslin Kolbe, Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel, Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach, Herschel Jantjies
Forwards: Schalk Brits, Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Steven Kitshoff, Tendai Mtawarira, RG Snyman, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen
England (Odds 4/1)
Four years ago, they suffered the ignominy of becoming the first host nation to be knocked out of the group stages of their own World Cup, but England are a much-changed outfit in 2019 under Eddie Jones.
Their first two years under Jones were fantastic, with England embarking on an eighteen-game winning streak. They suffered a mini setback in his third season, losing five in a row before regaining form last autumn.
More importantly, Jones is a man who knows how to succeed at rugby’s biggest tournament. He got Australia to the final of the 2003 event, then engineered a stunning turnaround in his 13-week stint as consultant with a struggling South African team as Jake White’s men lifted the William Webb Ellis Cup in 2007 and wrote his name into the history books as his Japan side stunned Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks in Brighton four years ago.
Despite some criticism of his grueling training regime, Jones remains a meticulous planner and a well-respected coach. He’s also not afraid of making big decisions, and has left the likes of Danny Care, Mike Brown, Danny Cipriani, Brad Shields and Ben Te’o out of England’s 31-man squad for the World Cup.
With the power game of Vunipola brothers, Maro Itoje and Manu Tuilagi and the explosiveness of Jonny May and Joe Cokanasiga on the wings, few teams can cope with England if they bring their A-game to the table. Ireland, the reigning No.1 side in the world, were demolished 57-15 in a warm-up last month.
There are some selection dilemmas for Jones in the backs- whether to go with the 10-12-13 combination of Owen Farrell, Tuilagi and Elliot Daly, or to include George Ford and Henry Slade in that vital trio.
Like they were at the 2015 World Cup, England are again in the “Group of Death” this time around, with France and Argentina for company in Group C. What goes against them is their schedule- the two toughest games against France and Argentina are also their last ones in the group, which means Jones’ men have to potentially play five straight tests against strong Tier 1 opposition to win the Cup. Given the way modern rugby is played, that may be asking a bit too much, even for a side of their calibre.
Key player: He’s had his issues with injury, but Manu Tuilagi is a special player and brings a different dimension to this England squad. A fit Tuilagi in full-flight is the stuff of nightmares for opposition defences. Also watch out for the young flanker duo of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, who form a mean back row combination along with Billy Vunipola.
England World Cup 2019 Squad
Backs: Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (captain), George Ford, Piers Francis, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs
Forwards: Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Mark Wilson.
Wales (Odds 9/1)
Grand Slam winners in 2019, and briefly No.1 in the world this year, Wales would’ve been regarded as the Home Nations side with the best chance to lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy in Japan, but a spate of injuries, and some ordinary form in the recent warm-ups have tempered expectations back home.
Toby Faletau and Gareth Anscombe will be sorely missed, as will the likes of Ellis Jenkins and Rhys Webb. Nine months ago, few would’ve expected Samson Lee and Rob Evans to miss out on World Cup selection, but neither of the Scarlets props will be travelling to Japan.
Anscombe’s injury leaves Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell, the latter struggling with concussion issues, to steady the ship at the World Cup. Attack has been a big problem in Gatland’s tenure, and with tries at a premium, Wales always need to be at their physical best in order to dominate and grind down their opponents.
Defence has however been solid, and as is oft told, it’s defence rather than attack that wins World Cups. In their 2019 Six Nations campaign, Wales scored only 10 tries- the same as Italy, and 14 fewer than Eddie Jones’ England, but let it only 7- the least of any team in the tournament.
Nevertheless, we expect Gatland to have some tricks up his sleeve- this is his last tournament with the national team before he returns to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs. The manner of their heartbreaking 2011 and 2015 exits still remains fresh in Welsh minds- the former due to a controversial red card, and the latter to a late try against an ageing South African side.
This Welsh squad also possesses plenty of experience- Alun Wyn Jones has 127 caps to his name and several others- Ken Owens, Jonathan Davies, George North, Biggar, Justin Tipuric and Liam Williams, all have over 50.
Wales are in Group D alongside Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay. Fiji can be tricky, but should honestly be put away by Gatland’s men. That leaves the Australia fixture as the key one- the Wallabies have been Wales’ nemesis for a long, long time. Beating Australia will secure top spot in Group D and a potential quarterfinal against France or Argentina.
Key player: Anscombe’s injury has shifted the focus back on Dan Biggar. Legendary wing JJ Williams has even said that Wales will not win a World Cup with Biggar at 10. The Saints flyhalf has however enjoyed his rugby at Franklin’s Gardens and will be keen to help his side achieve glory- this, in many people’s eyes, is perhaps the best Welsh side to go to a World Cup since 1999.
Wales RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Hadleigh Parkes, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin, Tomos Williams, Liam Williams
Forwards: Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Rhys Carre, James Davies, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Ken Owens, Aaron Shingler, Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.
Ireland (Odds 9/1)
The country with the most World Cup wins to have never gone past the quarterfinal stage, Ireland are currently No.1 in the world going into Japan 2019 following consecutive warm-up wins over Wales last month.
Like the Welsh, the Irish also have a Kiwi coach at the helm of affairs in the form of Joe Schmidt. Widely lauded as a tactical genius, Schmidt has masterminded two victories over the All Blacks in this cycle and will be aiming to become the first Irish coach to reach the last four of the World Cup.
Ireland have a relatively easy group, but a lot will depend on how they handle fellow Celtic outfit Scotland in their tournament opener. Beat Gregor Townsend’s men, and the stage is all set for them to top the group, with a potential quarter-final against either New Zealand or South Africa. They will have to do it without Robbie Henshaw though, with a hamstring problem set to rule the influential centre out of the Scotland game.
Injuries to both Dan Leavy and Sean O’Brien have resulted in Schmidt taking a contingent light on opensides to the World Cup. There are also question marks over the composition of his back row- has Jack Conan done enough to start? Is there space for both, or only one, of Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander? Devin Toner made the most starts at lock for an Irish forward during between 2016 and 2019, but is not in the squad, with South African born Jean Kleyn getting the nod at his expense.
A lot will also depend on how the half back pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton perform. The duo have plenty of experience playing together, but haven’t been at their best this year.
Ireland would’ve been real favourites for the World Cup had it been held last year. Have they peaked too soon? They had a disappointing Six Nations earlier this year and were thrashed 57-15 by England last month.
Key player: As mentioned before, Murray and Sexton are hugely vital cogs in Schmidt’s game plan. At 34, this is perhaps Sexton’s last World Cup, and the Leinster flyhalf will be keen to sign off on a winning note.
Ireland RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Bundee Aki, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale
Forwards: Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier.
Australia (Odds 12/1)
They may not have been in the best of form in the past year, but few will write off Australia at a World Cup. Past form appears to count for nothing when the Wallabies get to the World Cup-they seem to grow an extra arm and leg at the tournament, as was on show during the last one when they beat both England and Wales to top the Group of Death and reached the final before losing to the All Blacks.
Israel Folau’s absence will be a big blow to the Wallabies. Folau had a virtual monopoly over the 15 jumper before his controversial remarks last year prompted Rugby Australia to tear up the Waratahs star’s contract.
Influential flanker David Pocock hasn’t played much in the last year, and Cheika must decide whether to play both Pocock and skipper Michael Hooper together, or retain only one of the two and keep Lukhan Tui at 6 and Isi Naisarani at 8- the latter structure gives the Wallabies four clear options at lineout time.
In the backs, the Wallabies have incredible versatility, with the likes of James O’Connor, Reece Hodge, Matt To’omua and Kurtley Beale all capable of playing any position between 10 and 15. O’Connor in particular will be keen to make up for lost time- he hasn’t quite had the career people would’ve expected out of a prodigious schoolboy who made his Wallabies debut as a teenager back in 2008.
Christian Lealiifano has made a miraculous recovery from leukaemia to claim the No.10 jersey ahead of Bernard Foley. Veteran Will Genia remains their first-choice scrumhalf while reserve No.9 Nic White appears to have made massive improvements in his game after moving to Europe.
The Wallabies also have a relatively kind draw- their only major opponents will be Wales, whom they have a fantastic historic record against. Topping Group D is likely to get them a quarterfinal against Argentina, another team they’ve enjoyed fine success in the recent past, and beat in the semi-finals of the last World Cup.
Key player: Samu Kerevi- Australia can be lethal when given space and Reds centre Kerevi is a a player who can unlock his fellow backs. Kerevi makes metres at will and is tough to bring down, as demonstrated by the way he stream-rolled poor Beauden Barrett en route to the tryline during the Wallabies’ famous 47-26 win over New Zealand in Perth earlier this year.
Wallabies 2019 RWC Squad
Backs: Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Matt Toomua, Christian Leali’ifano, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Will Genia
Forwards: Isi Naisarani, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (captain), David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Uelese.
France (Odds 33/1)
They say you never quite know which French team will turn up, but this could end up being the first time that Les Bleus might fail to make it out of the group stages of a World Cup. With England and Argentina for company in Group C, Jacques Brunel’s side face a stiff challenge to qualify for the quarterfinals.
In this World Cup cycle, the French have never finished managed to finish higher than third in the Six Nations. It caused the FFR to sack Guy Noves (the first French manager to be formally shown the door), and replace him with Jacques Brunel. Fabien Galthie, the man earmarked as Brunel’s successor, has also been appointed as his assistant. The latter is reportedly not a big fan of bruising centre Mathieu Bastareaud, which has led to the former Toulon star’s omission from the squad in favour of Geoffrey Doumayrou. All this has led to rumours of Galthie actually calling the shots, and talk about Brunel’s authority being undermined. Both Brunel and Noves have a win percentage of less than 40% in their respective tenures and have tried 17 different half-back combinations between them, which speaks volumes of the state Les Bleus are in.
There has been some positive news on the junior front- France have won both the 2018 and 2019 U20 World Rugby Championships, but Japan 2019 perhaps comes too early for that to translate into success on the senior front, with the home World Cup in 2023 perhaps being a more achievable target.
Key player: Antoine Dupont- In France, the No.9 is often the most influential player on the field, and a lot will depend on young Toulouse scrumhalf Dupont if Les Bleus are to defy expectations and make it to the last eight, or possibly even further.
France RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Antoine Dupont, Baptiste Serin, Maxime Machenaud, Camille Lopez, Romain Ntamack, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Sofiane Guitoune, Virimi Vakatawa, Yoann Huget, Alivereti Raka, Damian Penaud, Maxime Medard, Thomas Ramos
Forwards: Jefferson Poirot, Rabah Slimani, Demba Bamba, Emerick Setiano, Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Camille Chat, Peato Mauvaka, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Paul Gabrillagues, Arthur Iturria, Bernard Le Roux, Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon, Louis Picamoles, Yacouba Camara, Wenceslas Lauret
Scotland (Odds 40/1)
Scotland are probably the Home Nations equivalent of France- they could very easily end up beating Ireland in their group, but are also equally capable of losing to Japan or Samoa. An example of this was seen in the warm-up games last month, where they were soundly trounced 32-3 by Les Bleus in Nice, only to beat the same opponents 17-14 a week later at Murrayfield.
The Scots would’ve also made the semi-finals of the previous World Cup but for a contentious decision from referee Craig Joubert that saw Australia progress at their expense.
Greg Townsend has put together a relatively strong squad, but has axed Huw Jones, the former Stormers centre who was a key part of the country’s success in Townsend’s first two seasons as coach.
For the Scots, a lot could depend on how they fare in their tournament opener against Ireland. Win there, and they’ll have one step in the last eight. Lose, and they’ll be forced into a virtual do-or-die against the hosts Japan in their final group game- never an easy prospect with a partisan crowd backing the Brave Blossoms and the potential humidity factor.
Key player: Finn Russell- An injury to the Racing flyhalf would be almost catastrophic to Scotland’s World Cup chances. He’s vital to Townsend’s style of play, and there’s very little behind him in their depth chart at No.10. Another player to watch out for is Hamish Watson- the talented loose forward who announced himself on the world stage during this year’s Six Nations, setting a record for defenders beaten in a single game.
Scotland RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Peter Horne, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor.
Forwards: John Barclay, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Stuart McInally (captain), WP Nel, Gordon Reid, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.
Argentina (Odds 40/1)
No team has probably had as much time playing together as Argentina in this World Cup cycle, with the Pumas effectively competing as the Jaguares in Super Rugby. The Argentine Super Rugby side even reached the final of the tournament this year before losing to the Crusaders.
The familiarity is also both a boon and a curse for Pumas coach Mario Ledesma- boon because combinations are always important at a tournament like the World Cup, and curse because it runs the risk of removing the element of surprise in this age of detailed video analysis.
Ledesma however did have the option of picking foreign based players and it’s interesting to note his selections at 10, with neither of Joaquin Diaz Bonilla and Domingo Miotti- the duo who helped the Jaguares reach the SR final, selected in his final squad of 31. He has instead chosen to go with veteran Nicolas Sanchez, a fine player, but seemingly not in the best of form, and Castres back Benjamin Urdapilleta.
Other notable omissions from Ledesma’s final squad include Facundo Isa, Juan Imhoff, Santiago Cordero and Gonzalo Bertranou.
While the Jaguares have lit up Super Rugby with their expansive style of play, it’s come at the expense of several other facets of their game, most notably their scrum. Once a feared weapon, it’s become increasingly blunt over the last decade and Ledesma, himself a well-known prop in his playing days, will have his work cut out.
When the Pumas played South Africa in the Rugby Championship a few weeks ago, a well-known British commentator remarked that there were two world-class front rows in action, but “unfortunately for the Pumas, both belonged to the Springboks”- an indicator of how low Argentina’s stocks have fallen in that department.
Ledesma’s men are in the group of death along with England, France, USA and Tonga. The game against France, who are still looking for revenge for what the Pumas did to them on home soil back in 2007, could potentially decide whether they advance to the last eight or not.
Key player: You could potentially pick Pablo Matera, but we reckon Nicolas Sanchez is very, very important to the Pumas’ cause. Unfortunately, the veteran has suffered a severe dip in form internationally, and needs to get his mojo back if the Pumas are to go far in this tournament.
Argentina RWC 2019 Squad
Backs: Tomas Cubelli, Felipe Ezcurra, Nicolas Sanchez, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Lucas Mensa, Juan Cruz Mallia, Ramiro Moyano, Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli, Joaquín Tuculet, Santiago Carreras
Forwards: Agustín Creevy, Julian Montoya, Santiago Socino, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Mayco Vivas, Juan Figallo, Santiago Medrano, Enrique Pieretto, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Pablo Matera (captain), Tomas Lezana, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamon.