Ernesto Patricio Noriega
- 750Wallaby Number
Patricio Noriega followed in the footsteps of fellow Argentine Enrique ‘Topo’ Rodriguez to become just the second Puma to play Test rugby for Australia. A tighthead prop of global acclaim, Noriega was born and bred in Buenos Aires. He played in the 1995 Rugby World Cup for Argentina and while the Pumas did not progress to the finals they certainly let their scrum presence be known, particularly against England in Durban. With 25 caps to his name Noriega left his homeland to move to Australia and join the ACT Brumbies.
After he completed his three-year residency Noriega was selected for the 1998 Spring Tour where he made his Wallaby debut against France in Paris. He was earmarked for the No 3 jersey at the 1999 Rugby World Cup but unfortunately injured a shoulder on the eve of the tournament and was forced to miss the tournament. Noriega played a season in Europe with Stade Francais before he returned to Australian and joined the NSW Waratahs.
In 2003 a chronic back injury forced Noriega into retirement just two months before the Rugby World Cup. Noriega played 24 Tests for Australia in his six-year Wallaby career.
Noriega won his first Test cap as the run-on XV tighthead prop in the 32-21 victory over France in Paris. A week later he held his spot in the 12-11 win against England at Twickenham.
Noriega played in the opening seven Tests of the year before a shoulder injury saw him ruled out of contention for a spot in the Rugby World Cup squad.
He started at tighthead in nine of the 10 Wallaby Tests.
In his final year of international rugby Noriega was the run-on XV No.3 in the opening six Tests of the season before a back injury forced his retirement just a few months out from the Rugby World Cup.