Friday, January 20, 2012

The joker Imhoff is a master card

Translated from article by Arnoud Coudry for Le Figaro

The article is about whether Racing-Métro will find a place for their new star in the long term, another recent bit of news is that Pumas number 8 Leonardo Senatore will not have his contract renewed with Toulon despite doing reasonably well there (click to see try from last week). This could leave the Argentines in Europe in no man's land if Super Rugby teams continue their reluctance to bring in foreign players, although there are a few more this season to be fair. But hopefully, the worst case scenario doesn't happen, players start retiring from the Pumas to protect their European contract. The Pumas can simply not afford to lose their key players.

The Racingmen have had a season which has been very inconsistent. But one player however has burst onto the scene, the Argentine Juan José Imhoff. Who arrived mid October as a medical joker for Benjamin Fall (injured for 6 months), the versatile winger or full back has already scored 4 tries in 8 matches: 1 in the Top 14 against Perpignan and 3 in the H Cup.

Lively, strong and elusive, Imhoff (23 years old, 1.84 m, 84 kg) has quickly integrated into the squad of the Sky and Whites. And the question is becoming more and more evident: will Racing allow this gem slip once he has finished his short term contract? And is he better than the player he was supposed to replace?

Before playing in the World Cup with the Pumas (4 matches, 2 tries), Imhoff, started his career with Duendes in the town of Rosario, and won the Vodacom Cup (South Africa's second division which takes place the same time as the Super 15) with the Argentine Pampas XV, based in Stellenbosch. He scored 10 tries in 10 matches. In the final, the Argentine side, which also included Creevy (Montpellier) and Senatore (Toulon) defeated the Blue Bulls 14-9.

Today the devastating revelation of Racing, a former Sevens players, arouses a dilemma. Will he prolong with Racing? Or return to his homeland to play the next Rugby Championship (or 4 Nations with South Africa, Australia and New Zealand)?

In the last Midi Olympique Magazine, Agustín Pichot revealed that the Argentine federation (UAR) has started an attempt to sound out their best players. "The UAR has just signed 10 contracts. The salaries have nothing to do with the salaries offered in Europe. But it's an important first step. Others will follow", announced the Petit Napoléon. Today, on speaks of salaries around €5000 monthly, against €500 proposed earlier.

At the beginning of season press conference, the Racing managed Pierre Berbizier made a remark on the future, Racing would no longer recruit "Gauchos" due to the Pumas integration into the Rugby Championship, will miss the entire pre season and wouldn't return back until mid October (the Pumas last game takes place on the 6th of October against Australia).

Could there be a small exception for the revelation of the season who arrived in mid October?

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