Major teams: Stade Français, Waratahs, Brumbies
Countries: Argentina, Australia
Test span: 1991-2003
Argentina caps: 25 (25 starts)
Australia caps: 24 (22 starts)
Test points: 10 (2T)
Patricio Noriega cut his teeth in the toughest of propping breeding grounds – the Pumas’ front row.
Born in Buenos Aires, the tighthead played for his local club, Hindu, before being fast-tracked and appearing in two World Cups for los Pumas, and although they failed to progress in both competitions (1991 and 1995), they dented a few reputations up front.
Against England in Durban, Noriega’s 6ft 1in, 18st 7lb immovable frame was duly noted and his set-piece strength was to the fore as the English pack was shunted backwards at a rate of knots. The match provided him with one of his two Test tries.
After 25 caps, Noriega left Argentina to play for the Brumbies, where after a series of impressive Super Rugby performances he was sounded out to play for the Wallabies.
After completing his three-year residency, he was earmarked for the No 3 role for the 1999 World Cup. But he cruelly suffered a shoulder injury on the eve of the tournament, ruling him out of the competition as the Wallabies went on to defeat France in the final.
After the competition, Noriega stayed on in Europe where he spent a season with Stade Français before heading back to Australia to play for the Waratahs. He played his final Test in 2003 against South Africa before a chronic back injury forced him to retire only months before the World Cup.
After hanging up his boots, Noriega returned to Argentina where he started making waves as a coach at his former club Hindu and with the Argentina A team, but by 2009 he was back in Australia working in the Wallabies high-performance unit as a scrummaging expert as part of Robbie Deans’s coaching team.
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In early 2013, he returned to France and took up a forwards coach role at Racing Metro and he’s since moved on to the head-coach position with Bayonne in D2.