Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Juan Figallo could play for Argentina in June

Juan Figallo running out for Montpellier

Argentine international tighthead prop Juan Figallo will not play again this season. His season ending shoulder injury means he will play no futher part in the Top 14 of Heineken Cup campaigns for his French club, Montpellier. The club has been gettnig by without him with Argentina´s reserve tighthead, Maximilano Bustos filling in for him but the impact is not the same as that of Figallo who has been used mainly by the club at loosehead prop. Montpellier signed Nahuel Lobo as a medical joker in place of Figallo and he has been getting game time and will likely continue to do so until the end of the current season. Sicne undergoing surgery Figallo has lost 7KG. 

Lobo is likely to then start at loosehead prop for Argentina against England and Georgia in June. Bustos will not play, with him certain o be used in The Rugby Championship like Figallo. However the chances of Figallo playing in June appear to now be strong after he made it known in an interview that he is seeking permission from both Santiago Phelan and Montpellier to play in the June internationals. He will have had sufficient time off before then to see him subsequently returning to club duty after The Rugby Championship without being over played. His involvement with Los Pumas would be a tremendous boost for what will be a young side missing all the European based players that will go on to play in The Rugby Championship. 

Should Figallo play then he is a very strong contender for the captaincy. With his home town of Salta in line to host one of the two tests against England, Figallo would add significant marketability to the English tour and would offer the home supporters a rare opportunity of seeing one of their own playing in their city. Figallo is a hero in Salta, having won the sports person of the year award in 2011 after his performances for Montpellier in reaching the Top 14 Final and for Argentina at the World Cup.

It would be a good option given his reputation and the respect that the players and coaches have for Figallo who is one of the best props in the Top 14. Figallo has taken over the shirt previously worn by the likes of Mauricio Reggiardo, Omar Hasan and Martín Scelzo and has carried on in the tradition of excellence. With  captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and vice captain Patricio Albacete both being in their thirties the chances of Figallo leading Argentina permanently in the future are real. Either he or Agustín Creevy could captain the team after Rugby World Cup 2015.  

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