Argentina is allowing rugby training to restart after a five-month hiatus and a Pumas squad of 46 home-based players has been called up to prepare for the Rugby Championship, which will take place in November and December.
Rugby was suspended in Argentina in mid March due to the coronavirus pandemic but the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) said the players can restart training on Thursday in small groups at their training ground in Buenos Aires.
Argentina has recorded more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases, with 5,004 deaths so far.
All the players will be tested for COVID-19 before joining up and temperature tests will be taken daily thereafter.
The squad includes a number of uncapped players as well as seasoned internationals such as backs Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Moroni, and Matias Orlando, who will be leaving for clubs abroad after the Rugby Championship.
The Jaguares Super Rugby team released all of their top players last month because they could no longer afford their salaries due to the chaos wrought by the pandemic.
European-based players, including former skipper Agustin Creevy and flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, will be considered for a call up by Pumas coach Mario Ledesma at a later date, the UAR said.
The Rugby Championship, the annual test tournament for southern hemisphere nations Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, is usually played on a home and away basis.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, governing body SANZAAR is working on plans to play all the matches in one centralised location, probably New Zealand, during the Nov 7- Dec 12 international window. (Reporting by Ramiro Scandolo in Benos Aires, writing by Andrew Downie in London Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
46-man Pumas squad
1. Mayco Vivas 2. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro 3. Federico Wegrzyn 4. Julián Montoya 5. Santiago Socino 6. Ignacio Ruiz 7. Jose Luis Gonzalez 8. Joel Sclavi 9. Santiago Medrano 10. Lucio Sordoni 11. Juan Pablo Zeiss 12. Lucas Paulos 13. Ignacio Calas 14. Rodrigo Fernandez Criado 15. Marcelo Toledo Valentini
16. Lucas Bur 17. Rodrigo Bruni 18. Tomas Lezana 19. Javier Ortega Desio 20. Francisco Gorrisen 21. Santiago Grondona 22. Santiago Montagner 23. Juan Bautista Pedemonte 24. Juan Martin Gonzalez 25. Joaquin Oviedo 26. Tomas Cubelli 27. Felipe Ezcurra 28. Gonzalo Bertranou 29. Gonzalo Garcia 30. Domingo Miotti
31. Joaquin Diaz Bonilla 32. Tomas Albornoz 33. Jeronimo de la Fuente 34. Matías Moroni 35. Juan Cruz Mallia 36. Matias Orlando, 37. Juan Pablo Castro 38. Santiago Chocobares 39. Lucio Cinti 40. Emiliano Boffelli 41. Santiago Carreras 42. Bautista Delguy 43. Sebastian Cancelliere 44. Mateo Carreras 45. Joaquín Tuculet 46. Juan Bautista Daireaux