The Blues are reportedly in the hunt for the signature of Los Pumas midfielder Santiago Chocobares to fill the final spot on their roster for the upcoming Super Rugby season.
The Auckland franchise named their squad for next year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaigns, which included just three midfielders – TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane and Tanielu Tele’a.
With one place left vacant from the 38-man team, the New Zealand Herald reports that the Blues are looking abroad to fill that gap, targeting promising Pumas star Chocobares.
The two-test 21-year-old made his international debut in Argentina’s famous win over the All Blacks in Sydney last month, and has previously been involved in the Auckland Rugby Union academy, according to the Herald.
Should his move to the franchise come to fruition, he would follow in the footsteps of England midfielder Joe Marchant, who joined the Blues on loan from Gallagher Premiership club Harlequins earlier this year.
A move from Argentina – where Chocobares is currently contracted to the Jaguares, the ill-fated Super Rugby franchise urging players to take up deals overseas – to the Blues is plausible given the Auckland side still has one foreign spot left in their ranks.
New Zealand Super Rugby squads are limited to a maximum of three players who have played test rugby outside of New Zealand, with one of those spots dedicated to Pacific Island players.
The Blues have just two capped foreign internationals named in next year’s side through Manu Samoa front-rowers James Lay and Ray Nuia.
One potential roadblock to securing Chocobares’ signature, though, is that New Zealand Rugby needs to sign off on any foreign players, with only one permitted in each position across the five franchises.
The youngster would also need to undergo two weeks of quarantine in New Zealand before joining the squad early next year.
In the meantime, Chocobares has been named on the bench for Argentina ahead of their final test of the year in the Tri-Nations finale against the Wallabies at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
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