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Juan Imhoff on his ongoing Los Pumas abscence

By Chris Jones
Juan Imhoff gets a dose of the feels (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Juan Imhoff says the constant strain of having to operate in a COVID bubble away from home means he is unlikely to be pulling on the Argentina jersey any time soon and is even debating his availability for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

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The wing withdrew from this season’s November internationals due to coronavirus restrictions as the Pumas continued their difficult life on the road in the middle of a pandemic. They 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 did not play in this year’s Rugby Championship staged in Australia or the November tests, opting to stay with his club Racing 92 where he has delivered world class play since 2011.

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Imhoff told AFP: “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.

“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.

“It’s difficult, the results aren’t coming. 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.”

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Imhoff has won 33 caps and featured at two Rugby World Cups but does not know if will be with the team in France in 2023 where the Pumas will tackle a pool containing 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.”

There is also the question of where he will be playing next season as his Paris club contract is ending and he added: “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. 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.”

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