The Americas Pacific Challenge has come to a close and while our tournament XV is still to come there were some very strong performances over the last two rounds. Some others in Europe also put up their hand. Sadly there were precious few Canadians in contention and while Uruguay were struggling in Montevideo, their talisman flyhalf was in top form in France.
1 – Chance Wenglewski (USA Select XV) Not a great week for loosehead props but this promising youngster showed up well enough. Came in to shore up the scrum against Canada, at least partially, and while his set piece remains a work in progress, his efforts around the pitch were noteworthy. A physical specimen who still has room to grow and a lot of upside. Sticking to one side of the scrum for a while might speed up his development.
2 – Joe Taufete’e (Worcester Warriors) Argentina’s own giant-sized hooker Axel Zapata scored a try in two separate games this week but it’s another massive man who gets the call. A rare hat-trick in the first half against Brive and a Man-of-the-Match effort to open the Challenge Cup in style. A good day at the office indeed in front of incoming Eagles coach Gary Gold.
3 – Dino Waldren (London Scottish) A try-scoring effort from countryman Angus MacLellan was worth noting while Canada’s Cole Keith was outstanding in the scrum. Waldren made a splash in his first start for Scottish, grabbing a try and contributing numerous carries in the British & Irish Cup win over the Dragons.
4 – Brendan Daly (USA Select XV) The SFGG man quietly had a very good week, contributing heavily at the lineout and around the pitch with his no-nonsense approach. Despite this it’s unlikely he’ll take any further steps up the international ladder due to his relative lack of size at a position reserves for giants.
5 – Ben Landry (USA Select XV) One such physical specimen was surprisingly utilized on the flank this week. Going forward Landry will be a lock but boy were we reminded of his physical strength on the contact area. Backwards and Ben Landry simply do not go together in the same sentence.
6 – Hanco Germishuys (USA Select XV) What a way to respond from an unfortunate and ultimately undeserved red card last weekend. A strong impression as a replacement against Uruguay and four tries against Canada. Next stop Eagles tour in November.
7 – Facundo Isa (Toulon) Well hello there Europe. First Champions Cup game, first Man-of-the-Match performance. A bulldozer with ball in hand. Maybe Super Mario can talk some sense into the Argentine Illuminati. If not, there are others to consider…
8 – Rodrigo Bruni (Argentina XV) While the Jaguares and Pumas are puttering along with ineffectual ball carriers who have done precious little to cover Isa’s absence, there is untapped talent with the development side running rampant. Bruni was excellent in two matches this week, scoring two tries and providing just the kind of go-forward from the back of the scrum that every team needs.
9 – Gonzalo Bertranou (Argentina XV) A hot contender for a spot on the Pumas tour in November did his chances no harm. With Sebastián Cancelliere nipping at his heels Bertranou delivered two refined performances as his team eviscerated the opposition in Montevideo.
10 – Felipe Berchesi (Dax) Only his second start for his new club and it was a doozy. Six penalty goals and 20 points in all to lead the away over Colomiers. His performance forced us to reshuffle the backline to fit everyone in.
11 – Josh Whippy (USA Select XV) What a week for the Utah man who could not have made a better case for inclusion on the Eagles tour. Only scored one try himself but ran rampant and created several for his teammates. Welcome to international rugby!
12 – Juan Cappiello (Argentina XV) Two scores against Samoa and virtually flawless across two matches. When the rest of the backs were slicing through at will it was because Cappiello had softened them up in the midsection. Deserves to be playing pro rugby somewhere.
13 – Juan Cruz Mallía (Argentina XV) Actually earns his place on account of his hat-trick while playing fullback against Uruguay. It was the midfield where he was used as a replacement against Samoa, and where we’ve drafted him in. Another youngster with an eye for angles and timing.
14 – Sebastián Cancelliere (Argentina XV) Moved back to the wing to allow for Bertranou and didn’t bat an eye. Three tries in two games with defenders left diving for air. One of the most exciting talents in Argentina at the moment.
15 – Nicolás Cantarutti (Argentina XV) Seems to have come from nowhere, he scored an impressive 27 points while playing No 10 for Argentina against Uruguay. It was his play in general that cemented his selection. A sly dab off the side of the boot for a try to start things early, and pinpoint accuracy with his passing game.