Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, Argentina and Saracens midfielder MARCELO BOSCH on the exciting Bok centre pairing, why he admires Lionel Messi and the one-off Test match in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Sport24 asked: Since Argentina joined the Rugby Championship in 2012, how has the team grown?
Marcelo Bosch: When we first joined the competition we defended for most of the time, but now we try to keep the ball in our hands and play. Our attack has improved a lot – we scored four tries against South Africa – and our coach Daniel Hourcade likes his team to play, to keep ball possession and to attack. However, now the big challenge for us as a team is to play more tactically at times. Sometimes we play too much and lose energy in our own 22. I believe we would benefit from a better kicking plan – sometimes you have to kick more and run less. There are times when you need play a bit smarter, and we are working hard on finding the balance between all aspects of our game.
Sport24 asked: Share your views on the Springboks and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
Marcelo Bosch: South Africa is a top rugby team, and it’s pretty difficult to find weaknesses in their game. They have a very good kicking plan, are well-structured and are a very physical team. When they gain momentum and get over the advantage line within the first two phases, they can be a very dangerous opponent. Both Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel are great players. Damian is playing very well at the moment and my good friend Manuel Carizza, who was his teammate at the Stormers, has spoken about him in a great way. He is a very physical player and likes to take the ball forward to generate momentum for his team. Jesse is a very powerful young player and likes to find the gaps. They are two very important players for the Springboks. We will have to be really sharp in terms of our details if we want to stop them at Estadio Jose Amalfitani on Saturday and get the win.
Sport24 asked: A team from Argentina will join Super Rugby from 2016. Why will you not feature?
Marcelo Bosch: I have been based in Europe since 2006. I spent eight seasons in France playing for Biarritz and joined Saracens two years ago. I am enjoying myself a lot at Allianz Park and the club is great with me and my family. While it was a tough decision not to return to Argentina to play for our Super Rugby team, I am now 31 years of age and feel very settled in Europe. The ARU law nowadays is that if you are not going to represent the new franchise, you are no longer going to be able to play for the national team. In a perfect world, I would like to continue to play for Los Pumas, but I have made a decision in terms of what’s best for my family and where I am at nowadays. The quality of life in London is very good, and Saracens is a great club that competes with the top teams in Europe.
Sport 24 asked: Mark McCall has said, “Marcelo has worked incredibly hard. His hunger and determination to improve is second to none.” Where does your desire to be the best come from?
Marcelo Bosch: I believe my desire to improve as a player comes from within. I am a person who is self-critical in terms of my own performance, and I always feel as though I can play better. It’s weird if I finish a game and I’m not thinking about a mistake I made. I know that if I want to make my way and compete for a position for Argentina and Saracens, I have to push myself very hard and improve on every aspect of my game. I will continue to train hard because I don’t think we ever stop learning.
Sport24 asked: Share your memories of World Cup 2011, and why this year’s event will be riveting.
Marcelo Bosch: The 2011 World Cup in New Zealand was special from a personal point of view because it was my first World Cup. I was on the bench for the opening game against England, but came on after 25 minutes. I then played every minute of every match until we were eliminated at the quarter-final stage. While we lost, it was a great memory to play against New Zealand in Auckland, and was the first time that I had faced the All Blacks. Talking about the 2015 World Cup, to perhaps be able to play from next month in England would be incredible. I know that the atmosphere in the country will be brilliant, and if I’m lucky enough to be selected, I’d be very happy.
Sport 24 asked: You played Sevens for the Pumas – your thoughts on rugby at the Rio Olympics?
Marcelo Bosch: I think it’s great. I had the chance to play Sevens for Argentina for one year during the 2005/6 season and we finished sixth on the overall standings. I enjoyed myself a lot, and Sevens rugby coming to the 2016 Olympic Games is going to be massive. Sevens and the 15-man game has changed a lot over the last 10 years because of the evolution of fitness and the physical nature of the sport. However, the All Blacks, for example, aren’t the best team in the world only because they are physical. They are a very fit and skilful side and are in possession of great decision-making ability.
Sport24 asked: You also played football. If you invited Messi for dinner, what would you ask him?
Marcelo Bosch: (Laughs) I would ask Messi many things. I would like to know how at the age of 18, he was already one of the best players in world football. I would also ask him how he keeps motivated game after game and year after year. I think it’s incredible how he has been able to show that he is the best for such a long time. It would be a privilege to spend an evening with him and to learn more about his mindset. For dinner, I would serve escalope milanaise with mashed potatoes.
Sport24 asked: Who’s the worst singer in the side, the loudest, funniest and your best roommate?
Marcelo Bosch: We actually have a lot of good singers in the Argentinian side, but the worst would be the young guy in the team, Tomas Lezana. The player who shouts all the time and likes the attention is Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino. Nowadays, the funniest guy in the team has to be Juan Figallo. On our recent tour to South Africa, my roommate was Joaquin Tuculet, but I usually share a room with Manuel Carizza. We are almost the same age and have become really close friends playing together for club and country. I spent nearly seven years with him at Biarritz, and he’s like a brother to me. Mani is getting married at the end of the year and I will be a witness at his wedding.