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Due south: Carizza happy to wander for 'club' Argentina
After seven years in France, the second row has had to pack his bags to continue playing for the Pumas.

ARGENTINA LOCK MANUEL Carizza has no regrets.

His commitment to playing  for his country has made him a much less sought-after player than his athleticism, skill-set and international pedigree deserve.

Argentina’s historic move into the old Tri-Nations tournament has ensured a period of transition for him and it’s a sign of things to come as Puma stars begin to lock south of the equator to make a living.

After as long a tenure as any overseas player could hope for, Carizza uprooted himself from the idyllic surroundings of Biarritz. A south-west city showcasing the more alluring aspects of French life while also enjoying close proximity to Spain – should he get bored by the surf scene or feel the need to revert to his native tongue.

“It was a tough decision to take because I’m used to the style of living after seven years in Biarritz .” He said, towering over journalists in Argentina’s team hotel yesterday.

“I had an apartment there, my car… pretty much my life over there. So it’s risky to say no to them, but I wanted to play in the Rugby Championship. Fortunately it went okay, so I’m happy with that.”

For this season, Carizza has signed Racing Metro. But at a club now notorious for their attitude towards players’ international commitment, the 28-year-old speaks of a club career that seems to be going in circles.

He laments that the uncertainty over the future of his career endured earlier this year will happen all over again in the coming months, having signed just a short-term deal with Pierre Berbizier’s side as a “medical joker” – a replacement for a long-term injured player.

Is it all worth it?

“I had great moments with the Argentina team; it’s historic for us begin in an annual tournament like the Rugby Championship. So I’m very happy with my decision.” He says in flat tones.

“As I said before; it went okay, great. I have a contract with an important French club, so I’m very happy, yes.”

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The happiness appears to be brought exclusively by his international exploits. This year, the Pumas have enjoyed more time together than ever before, a factor which Carizza says has only enhanced the collective mind-set. So perhaps the country is fulfilling the role that a club should in this case.

Migration

“Yes, it was always like that, because we are very close – we have a great group – but now it’s like… we spend a lot of time together. We enjoy it, big time.”

These are landmark years for the Pumas. The well-trodden road to European club rugby could soon be given a major diversion. With talk of Argentina’s union applying for a Super Rugby franchise, the medium term is likely to bring a mass migration of Pumas out of the northern hemisphere. Carizza looks set to lead the exodus.

“It’s going to be tough for the players in the last year of their contract, because many clubs will say ’no’.

“Maybe our future is in Super Rugby. I think the future is there for us – South is the best opportunity.”

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