Star wing opens up on his Los Pumas absence
INTERVIEW: Experienced Argentina wing Juan Imhoff says he is unlikely to feature for his country any time soon after withdrawing from this season’s November internationals due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Pumas have played all their games away from home since August 2019 with players living in hotels during Test camps to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19.
The 33-year-old chose against featuring in The Rugby Championship and the November series in favour of returning to Paris, where he has played for Racing 92 since 2011.
“For me, the bio-secure bubbles, the hotels, that Argentina are always the away team, that there’s no political weight so that we’re like the other nations, it’s bad for your physical and mental health,” he told AFP.
“I would not enjoy rugby at all if I wasn’t good. So I came back to basics, to look after myself, my mental and physical health, so I can get back to my best.
“If Argentina need me I’ll be there,” he added.
During the more than two-year exile Argentina have experienced a first win over New Zealand, a convincing victory over a second-string Wales before losing eight of their past nine games.
Imhoff blamed the lack of a professional team based in the country for the poor run after the Jaguares pulled out of the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The majority of the Pumas squad now play abroad, following in Imhoff’s footsteps.
‘Not thinking’ about World Cup
“It’s difficult, the results aren’t coming,” he said on Tuesday.
“What’s worrying, is that we haven’t found an identity on the field, it will come because there are players who are very talented, they’re a team that work a lot.
“They just have to fine-tune things. There’s a lack of coordination, especially with the end of Super Rugby for the Jaguares.
“It’s not one detail why Argentina aren’t good right now, there are a lot of things,” he added.
Imhoff made the first of his 33 Tests in 2010 and has featured at two Rugby World Cups.
The next edition of the competition will be held in his adopted nation in 2023 with the Pumas in a group with the likes of England, Japan and Samoa.
“Honestly, I’m not thinking about it. I haven’t asked myself the question,” he said.
“I need to talk with my family. International rugby is a consequence of everyone’s level of performance. It’s not you who decides.”
According to Canal+ Imhoff will leave the Parisian outfit after a decade with his contract up at the end of the season.
“It’s difficult to talk about that. I don’t know anything. I have an incredible affinity with this club. My whole family is linked to this club,” he said.
“It’s where I’m at home, I’ve never thought of leaving. I want the best for the club, it’s one of the best in the world.”