Rugby-Orlando back in one of eight changes to Argentina test lineup

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership - Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester Rugby - Kingston Park, Newcastle, Britain - January 29, 2022 Newcastle Falcons' Matias Orlando Action Images/Craig Brough

(Reuters) - Matias Orlando returns to the Argentina team following a year’s absence after being named by new coach Michael Cheika on Thursday as one of eight changes for Saturday's first test against Scotland in San Salvador de Jujuy.

Injury kept Orlando out of Argentina’s 12 tests in 2021 but he will now team up with Jeronimo de la Fuente in the centre pairing.

There are three forward changes and five in the backline for Los Pumas' first game since a 53-7 mauling by Ireland in Dublin last November.

Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro comes in at tighthead with Matias Alemanno taking the place of Tomas Lavanini in the second row. Juan Martin Gonzalez replaces the youthful Santiago Grondona among the loose forwards.

Record points scorer Nicolas Sanchez returns at flyhalf with Emiliano Boffelli moving from fullback to the wing, opening up a slot at number 15 for Juan Cruz Mallia. Santiago Cordero replaces Santiago Carreras on the other wing.

There is also a return for former skipper Agustin Creevy on the bench. The 37-year-old last played for Argentina at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“Cheika has come with a lot of energy, new ideas and a clear DNA of how he wants us to play," New Zealand-based loose forward Pablo Matera told reporters on Thursday.

"Whenever we get together with Los Pumas there is a lot of energy, but now there are extra considerations, like being able to play again in Argentina after so many years, with many players who have not returned to the country for a long time," he added.

Argentina, who appointed the former Australia coach Cheika in December, last hosted a test more than 1,000 days ago against South Africa in Salta in 2019.

Strict lockdown conditions in Argentina during the COVID-19 pandemic restricted their ability to host tests or for the players to travel home from their clubs in Europe.

Team: 15-Juan Cruz Mallia, 14-Santiago Cordero, 13-Matias Orlando, 12-Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11-Emiliano Boffelli, 10-Nicolas Sanchez, 9-Tomas Cubelli, 8-Pablo Matera, 7-Marcos Kremer, 6-Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5-Matias Alemanno, 4-Guido Petti, 3-Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2-Julian Montoya (capt), 1-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacements: 16-Agustin Creevy, 17-Mayco Vivas, 18-Joel Sclavi, 19-Lucas Paulos, 20-Facundo Isa, 21-Gonzalo Bertranou, 22-Santiago Carreras, 23-Matias Moroni.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)

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