BAUTISTA DELGUY LOOKS to the sky over UCD and can only laugh.
He is a speedster, with slick footballing skills and supreme balance. Heavy, soft turf and the prospect of slippery pills are not the conditions to best suit his game.
“I do not like this weather much. It is not like Argentina,” he says.
We can relate, Bautista. We can relate.
Delguy is enjoying a breakthrough international season. He made his Test bow against Wales shortly after turning 21 and he was turning heads with the Jaguares, Argentina Sevens and U20s long before that.
Aside from expecting ‘a lot of high balls, surely’, he looks ahead to this weekend’s potential match-ups and hones in on his peers. He and Jacob Stockdale were opposing fullbacks when Ireland defeated Argentina in the 2016 U20 World Championship semi-final in Manchester, but could well come face to face as right and left wings for their respective countries this week.
Stockdale starred in the 2016 edition of the U20 ‘World Cup’, continually looking like a man powering through boys. As physical contests go, Delguy might be more comfortable going toe-to-toe, jink for jink, with Jordan Larmour, who missed the summer of 2016 through injury.
“He is a very good player, strong,” Delguy says of the prolific Ulster man.
“We need to take care for him. He is very fast, he is a very good player.”
Size and strength, of course, are not everything. Delguy is too young to really feel the bile and spittle that flew when Argentina-Ireland rivalries reached their peak. He counts Stuart Hogg and Damien McKenzie as formative-year heroes who helped to shape his game.
In the Rugby Championship he grabbed attention with his scorching acceleration – most notably in scoring twice in the win over the Springboks – but he has an array of skills in his locker that will add an exciting dimension to Argentina’s attack for many years to come. And, as is the case for the Argentina collective, he is keen to learn, change and grow.
Under Mario Ledesma, this year has seen the Pumas expand their repertoire to feature a more percentage, territory and pressure-based game. The over-arching goal being to click – as they have done so often at Ireland’s expense – at next year’s World Cup.
“This week is another type of rugby. In the (Rugby) Championship it is more dynamic. This type of rugby is very tough, there are no spaces.
“We are trying to balance the game because of the climate, it does not help our game.
“And we know it will also rain in Japan.”
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