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Pablo Matera: Argentina selection policy may have to change

In-demand flanker Pablo Matera has admitted Argentina may struggle to uphold their policy of only selecting stars who play for the Jaguares Super Rugby franchise.

Bullocking back-rower Matera has been linked with a move back to Aviva Premiership club Leicester Tigers after a string of impressive showings in both Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.

The 23-year-old has admitted "it's very difficult" for the Pumas' conflicted stars who still greatly admire Europe's top club competitions but have so far committed their futures to Super Rugby.

Coach Daniel Hourcade insists the Pumas will extend their policy of only selecting Test stars from the Super Rugby squad, but Matera believes a sabbatical system could benefit Argentina in future.

"We have lost some players because they have stayed in Europe," said Matera, who left Leicester in 2015 after two years at Welford Road.

"Playing in Europe is very interesting for the players, there are amazing tournaments.

"I had the chance to play in Europe when I was younger and didn't play very much because I was 19 and was learning the language.

"When we were young we would watch the Top 14 and Premiership and wanted to be part of it.

"Now we have the chance to play in a really good tournament back home but I think playing in Europe is still a real interest for players.

"Now we need to choose between playing for the Pumas or in Europe and it's a really difficult position. It's very difficult.

"Now I have chosen to play for Argentina and Super Rugby, because playing internationally is the best level a player can play at, but we're always watching what happens in Europe and thinking it could be good as well."

Argentina are bidding to end the Rugby Championship with a second victory in Saturday's clash with Australia at Twickenham.

Organisers expect a 50,000-plus crowd in London for the first Rugby Championship clash staged in the northern hemisphere.

Matera is relishing being back on familiar territory in England following his stint with Leicester, with the Pumas flanker having enjoyed the Jaguares' first foray into Super Rugby.

Matera fully appreciates Argentina's selection policy, which bids to keep the top stars on home soil, but thinks exceptions could be made in future.

Australia relaxed their rules on overseas players ahead of the 2015 World Cup, and can now select Wallabies stars based at foreign clubs provided they boast 60 or more Test caps.

Matera believes a similar system could hand Argentina flexibility in future, rewarding loyalty while also keeping young talent within the country.

"It's still very new in Argentina with the new system with the Jaguares," said Matera.

"But we're learning from the other teams. Teams like Australia now have that clause where players with more than 60 caps can go back to play.

"And I think Argentina could do something like that in the future, but I don't know."


From Belfast Telegraph