- Contepomi skippers side in Salta
- "England are a complete, balanced team. We know we'll have a big battle" – Phelan
Photo: Getty Images
Felipe Contepomi will win his 80th cap as he captains Argentina in Saturday's first Test against England in Salta.
The 35 year-old, who retired from professional club rugby at the end of Stade Francais’ season, lines up in midfield alongside Gonzalo Tiesi – who spent last season in the Aviva Premiership with London Welsh.
Contempomi’s experience will be vital at the helm of a somewhat experimental side, Pumas coach Santiago Phelan having rested a number of bigger names in preparation for the testing Rugby Championship campaign.
Behind the skipper, Tiesi and replacement halfback Nicolas Vergallo are the most capped members of the match-day 23 with 33 appearances each, while Argentina's starting side contains nine players who ply their trade abroad, the remaining six coming from the Pampas XV.
Speaking after announcing his team to face the tourists, Phelan said: "This is a great opportunity for these players, both the new ones and those with more experience," he said.
"To be in the Pumas again and represent your country implies a great responsibility and the more so given the magnitude of this match.
"England are a complete, balanced team. We know we'll have a big battle for the ball and that's why gaining it will be very important for us as well as being on top at the contact."
The teams last met at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand when Martin Johnson’s charges scraped a 13-9 win, but Argentina can take heart from the fact that they won their last home game against England in Salta back in 2009 by a margin of 24-22.
Argentina: 15. Martin Bustos Moyano, 14. Matias Orlando, 13. Gonzalo Tiesi, 12. Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11. Manuel Montero, 10. Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9. Martin Landajo; 1. Pablo Henn, 2. Martin Garcia Veiga, 3. Maximiliano Bustos, 4. Esteban Lozada, 5. Mariano Galarza, 6. Julio Farias Cabello, 7. Benjamin Macome, 8. Tomas Leonardi.
Replacements: 16. Mauricio Guidone, 17. Guillermo Roan, 18. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19. Tomas Vallejos, 20. Tomas De la Vega, 21. Nicolas Vergallo, 22. Gabriel Ascarate, 23. Belisario Agulla.