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'It's a good story, a good one for Michael to bring him back in'

By Liam Heagney
Agustin Creevy (Photo by Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images)

London Irish have paid tribute to Agustin Creevy for forcing his way back on the Test rugby scene with Argentina, who open their Autumn Nations Series on November 6 with a game against England at Twickenham. The veteran hooker had played in all four of Pumas matches at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but he then found himself frozen out of the squad by Mario Ledesma.

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It was October last year – two years after his caps tally had stalled at 89 – when Creevy sent a message to Ledesma via a RugbyPass interview. Asked if he was now officially retired from the international scene given that he hadn’t been capped at the time by the Pumas in 24 months, he replied: “No, no, no, I would like to play but at the moment the coaches have other priorities. I don’t know. You need to ask them.”

Ledesma wasn’t around for much longer to be asked that particular question as he quit as national team head coach following the 2021 Autumn Nations Series which concluded in a terrible hiding by Ireland in Dublin. His departure resulted in Michael Cheika, the former Australian boss, taking over Argentina and with it came a recall for the inspiring Creevy at the age of 37.

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His comeback appearance came in the opening July Test match versus Scotland and after featuring in all three games in that series, Creevy went on to be capped on four more occasions in The Rugby Championship and he was then part of the 29-strong Argentina squad that assembled in Machester earlier this week.

Unlike the England squad who had the weekend off after their preparation camp in Jersey, Creevy came back to London to play off the Irish bench in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match at Harlequins, underlining his commitment to the Exiles club he debuted for in August 2020 following the demise of the Super Rugby Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

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Director of rugby Declan Kidney has now expressed his delight that the long Creevy wait for an international recall by Argentina came to fruition in recent months. “I understand why when you work with someone like that, it is a good one for Michael to bring him back in. He would be an excellent squad player, especially in the environment where the Argentinians are moving from hotel to hotel as you do at international level anyway but the Argentinians probably even more.

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“He is just a very good person to have in and around the squad. He can mix having the fun – he is a bit old school in that way – but when it comes to being serious he is top notch and he shows all the younger fellas how to get it right then too.

“It’s a good story to be out of the international scene for three years at his age – which I refer to as the second half of his career rather than putting any limit on it. I’m delighted for him but he works hard at it then too and he is brilliant around the younger fellas here.

“What he has done for them and what he has done for the other front row players here, he is generous with his time, he enjoys his rugby and you can’t actually beat that – if you are enjoying it that gives you longevity in anything. For those of us lucky to enjoy our jobs that is what keeps us at it.”

Asked why Creevy is enjoying such longevity in his career and has been able to impress for Argentina, Kidney added: “It’s more lifestyle really. He turns up for work, is at all the training sessions but he knows his body and knows what makes it work. When you deal with someone like that you can be respectful of it and it is important to work with the player and ask them what works.

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“The only thing that really matters is what you allow them to produce on a Saturday. You can have all the best training sessions in the world Monday, Tuesday and Thursday but if you exhaust the player then that is no good. We talk through it and hopefully, that has been a small part of him getting to where he is.”

Creevy wasn’t the only London Irish-based Argentinian away in Manchester in the early part of the week. Lucio Cinti and Juan Martin Gonzalez were also involved and Kidney takes heart from their fabulous work ethic. “They are brilliant,” he said.

“I know this sounds cringy but we are a team of Exiles with different nationalities. The Argentinians nearly play twelve months of the year. They are playing right through the whole year and it is important to look after them and give them their mini-breaks. A lot of them go two or three seasons without getting a full pre-season.

“That is why they can peak when it comes to the World Cup because that is when it is probably the one time they get time to physically build themselves up, but their attitude is brilliant. They enjoy playing, they are here to learn, they just love the game and they will do whatever it takes to be right for the team. They just have a real team ethic about them.”

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