Montoya back to lead Pumas against Aust

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Captain Julian Montoya's return is among nine changes to Argentina from the series-deciding win against Scotland last month for the Rugby Championship opener against Australia this weekend.

Only two forwards and four backs retained starting spots for the Pumas, who trumped Scotland 34-31 after coming from 15 points down with 30 minutes to go in Santiago del Estero.

Hooker Montoya, halfback Tomas Cubelli and winger Santiago Cordero will be on deck in Mendoza after missing that third Test because of injuries.

The experienced Cubelli, who was ruled out of the Scotland series after tearing a leg muscle in the warm-up for the first Test, will partner Santiago Carreras in the halves after first-choice five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez re-injured his leg at training.

"It is very disappointing," said Pumas coach Michael Cheika.

"He needs long-term work, more recovery time to be in perfect condition.

"Nico is a very important player for this team and as his coach I have to take responsibility for the repeat injury.

"We understand the situation and we are going to prepare him very well so that when he comes back he's in top form."

Jeronimo de la Fuente will resume his centre pairing with Matias Orlando in midfield, as he did in the first two Scotland games.

The reserves include tighthead Joel Sclavi and scrumhalf Lautaro Bazan Velez, who made their debuts in the series, and uncapped flyhalf Tomas Albornoz, who didn't get off the bench in Santiago del Estero.

Pumas: Juan Cruz Mallia, Santiago Cordero, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Tomas Cubelli; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya (c), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Res: Agustin Creevy, Thomas Gallo, Joel Sclavi, Santiago Grondona, Rodrigo Bruni, Lautaro Bazan Velez, Tomas Albornoz, Matias Moroni.

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