Argentina coach Hourcade springs no surprises

(Reuters) - Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade sprung no surprises when he named his squad of 31 players for this year's World Cup on Sunday. It included five veterans of Argentina’s third-place finish at the 2007 tournament in France, forwards Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Marcos Ayerza and backs Horacio Agulla and Juan Martin Hernandez. Four of them, excluding Hernandez who was injured, also played at the 2001 World Cup in New Zealand along with another seven players in the squad. “Players got left out that didn’t deserve it, it’s unfair really but that’s how it is,” Hourcade told a news conference in Buenos Aires. “They did everything we asked of them, a great effort and they gave their all. It is the hardest moment of all for a coach but we had to choose only 31 players. “It’s a balanced list with 17 forwards and 14 backs that gives us the possibility of having two teams and one more front row forward.” That 19 of the squad are going to their first World Cup might be seen as a disadvantage but they have come on in great strides thanks to Argentina’s participation in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship since 2012, facing world powers New Zealand, Australia and South Africa regularly. Veteran winger Gonzalo Camacho and forwards Manuel Carizza and Juan Pablo Orlandi, who all played a part in the championship this season, missed the cut. Hourcade’s team upset South Africa 37-25 in Durban eight days ago with their first ever victory over the Springboks securing third place in the championship for the first time after three wooden spoons. South Africa gained revenge on Saturday, beating the Pumas 26-12 in Buenos Aires in the teams’ last test before the World Cup. Argentina, who warm up against Leicester Tigers on Sept. 5, face holders New Zealand in their Pool C opener at Wembley on Sept. 20. They also meet Georgia, Tonga and Namibia. (Reporting by Rex Gowar, Editing by Ed Osmond)