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Julian Montoya: 'I'm not lying, I don't think about those things much'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Leicester skipper Julian Montoya has downplayed his recent vault up the Gallagher Premiership try-scoring list with the Tigers. The defending champions are enjoying a springtime gallop, winning their four most recent games to move into third place ahead of Saturday’s home fixture with Bristol.

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A feature of that surge in form has been the return of Montoya to try scoring. He scored twice versus Bath on March 4 and followed that with another try eight days later at Gloucester. That lifted him to a total of six for the league season so far, good enough to be rated joint ninth on the tournament try list headed by Newcastle’s Mateo Carreras – Montoya’s fellow Argentinian – on 12.

Overall, it means the hooker has scored 20 tries in 39 league and cup appearances since his 2020/21 arrival at Leicester, a fantastic strike rate when you consider that Montoya scored just nine tries in 63 Super Rugby appearances with the Jaguares.

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However, no matter what way RugbyPass tried in midweek to put this statistic in a positive way to Montoya, he reacted dismissively and instead repeatedly insisted that it was a team game and that he wasn’t the type of player to take the individual credit for scoring regularly, especially off the back of the Leicester rolling maul.

“When you make a maul try it is somewhat unfair because I am at the back and there are seven guys in front of me that are working really, really hard so that I can stay at the back and score,” he explained.

“Honestly, I know we need to score tries and make points, but I don’t think about that personal record. It is my job to be at the back and my job to finish it, but I just want to win and be a part of a winning team. We train it during the week and seeing it happen in the game is what you want.”

If this was football and it was goals Montoya was scoring he would be feted as a hero in the World Cup-winning Argentina, but he suggested that rugby was a sport with a very different outlook when it comes to scoring. “I was very bad at football so I can’t say anything, but I don’t think in that way. I cannot say what I would think if I was another player, so I am just going to speak about myself.

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“That [being humble] is something about rugby I was taught, about putting the team first and then it is the individual. Of course, individual things are important but when you are part of something bigger than yourself, you can enjoy it even more.

“I don’t have a favourite (try at Leicester). I’m not lying, I don’t think about those things much. Honestly, I don’t think about them, so I don’t remember tries and things like that. I just try to train the next day and see how we can improve as a team and try to go forward with our objectives. Honestly, I don’t have a favourite try. Maybe one against Bath when I ran a couple of metres with the ball, that was strange so that one.”

The maul has been a busy recent work-on at Leicester. “The last game we scored two more tries. It is good for us. Before we weren’t as clinical, and our standards weren’t as high as they used to be so that is why we were working really hard, and the difference is we are playing really good as well. It is always a big part of our game, set-piece, but it is nothing new.”

It is now three years since Montoya played his last match with the Jaguares who fell out of Super Rugby when the pandemic led to the ripping up of the old format. The Australian and New Zealand teams now play amongst themselves, with the South African clubs participating in the URC. It meant there was nowhere for Jaguares to go, and their 2019 Super Rugby final team quickly spread to the four winds.

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“In Argentina, I was very happy… when you come overseas, it’s another country, I’m away from my family and it’s not very easy and that is why I’m very grateful for Leicester because I landed at a top club with top people and they treat me really, really well and I have enjoyed my stay here a lot,” said Montoya, the Argentina captain who is primed to lead his country into Rugby World Cup battle versus England in Marseille in September.

“I came here because I wanted to improve as a player, and they developed my set-piece and how I can play Premiership which is different from Super Rugby. I really enjoyed my time at Jaguares. I’m very grateful for that but now I am here. I’m enjoying it a lot and I just want to get better to keep improving – I’m in the right spot for that.”

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