It is rare for a player to compete in three World Rugby U20 Championships, such is the cyclical nature of international age-grade rugby, but that's the prospect facing scrum-half Gonzalo García.

Garcia hopes to join the likes of Springbok playmaker Handre Pollard, Scotland Sevens co-captain Jamie Farndale and former England U20 captain Jack Walker and complete a hat-trick of appearances at the tournament for the best under-20 talent on the planet.

He will be in South Africa with Argentina for an International U20 Series that will include games against Georgia, a senior Namibia XV and South Africa from April 9-17, which is the final stage of Los Pumitas' preparations before they bid to win the World Rugby U20 Championship for the first time on home soil.

“After two Championships away from home I very much look forward to playing in Argentina, in front of a passionate crowd that will support us very loudly,” admitted García, who plays for the Natación y Gimnasia club in Tucumán.

Since first appearing at this level in Georgia in 2017, Garcia has developed from a raw 17-year-old into a mature leader and key cog of the team. All five of his appearances in his first tournament came off the bench.

“I was still at school and I found myself in Georgia, wide-eyed and with little experience,” he recalled. “We came within seconds of beating France; that loss and a number of injuries meant we played for 11th. I was playing U19 at home and suddenly I found myself playing against professional players. I would come on in the final quarter, slowly learning more about this level of the game.”

More professional

Hungry to progress, Garcia modified the way he prepared himself in a bid to develop as a player. 

“My body changed as I modified my training methods and became more professional in terms of how I lived the game," he said.

Stronger and quicker, in France last year he shared the number nine jersey, starting two games and coming on as a replacement in the other three.

“We were better as a team and we finished sixth playing some good rugby. There are six players that are back this year and that kind of experience is very important. From my first to my second Championship things were easier as I knew what to expect."

He was one of a handful of players rested in the recent South American U20 Championship and his absence was felt as Los Pumitas lost for the first time against regional opposition, losing the final against Uruguay 38-32.

But Garcia is adamant Los Pumitas will put up a good showing in front of their own supporters, believing this to be the strongest of the three teams he has been involved in.

Captain Santiago Chocobares has already been invited to train with Los Pumas and Youth Olympic gold medallists Bautista Mendy, Bautista Pedemonte (both in France 2018), Juan Martín González, Lucio Cinti and Lucas Roger know what playing at home entails.

Argentina are pooled with defending champions France, Wales and Fiji, promoted back to the top tier after winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy last year.