Pumas turn to former London Irish centre

Argentina have brought Gonzalo Tiesi into a full-strength side for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against England.

Argentina have brought Gonzalo Tiesi into a full-strength side for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against England.

Tiesi, the former London Irish and Harlequins outside centre, has replaced Marcelo Bosch in the only change from the Pumas’ warm-up defeat to Wales last month.

Argentina’s veteran hooker Mario Ledesma and their captain Felipe Contepomi, Jonny Wilkinson’s former Toulon team-mate, will both be playing in their fourth World Cup.

Contepomi said: “It’s a great honour (to be playing against Wilkinson).

“He’s one of those players who doesn’t come around that often and to play against him will be a great, huge honour – but we are trying to analyse England as a whole, not only as players.

“Obviously, I have a huge respect for Jonny as he is one of the best players in the world and a great man. That makes him even better.”

Up front, Argentina opted for three-Test tight-head Juan Figallo ahead of the vastly more experienced Martin Scelzo to pack down alongside Ledesma and Rodrigo Roncero.

Pumas coach Santiago Phelan said: “This is the best team we have.

“We know he is a young player but he is developing very well. He had a very good year in Montpellier and we think he is the best option.”

Argentina team to play England in the Rugby World Cup at Otago Stadium, Dunedin on Saturday, September 10 (kick-off 9,30am Irish time):

M Rodriguez; G Camacho, G Tiesi, S Fernandez, H Agulla; F Contepomi (capt), N Vergallo; R Roncero, M Ledesma, J Figallo, M Carizza, P Albacete, J Farias Cabello, JM Leguizamon, JM Fernandez Lobbe.

Replacements: A Creevy, M Scelzo, M Galarza, A Campos, A Lalanne, M Bosch, J Imhoff.

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