JUAN PABLO SOCINO is hoping to use Edinburgh’s involvement in European rugby’s top tier competition this season as an opportunity to stake a claim for a return to the international frame with Los Pumas. The centre, who joined Richard Cockerill’s side from Newcastle Falcons during the summer, is desperate to add to the four caps he picked up for Argentina leading up to and during the 2015 World Cup.
A policy introduced immediately after that tournament, which limited international selection to players based inside the country – for all intents and purposes those playing for Jaguares in Super Rugby – left Socino as one of the army of Argentineans ineligible for further international honours because they ply their trade for European clubs.
However, that approach has now been dropped, and with Los Pumas visiting Scotland this November, Socino believes that a couple of big performances during the next few weeks against some European super-powers in the Champions Cup over the next fortnight could catch new head coach Mario Ladesma’s attention.
At 30 years of age, Socino is closer to the twilight than the dawn of his career, but with another World Cup looming over the horizon, he is keen to throw his hat into the ring.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “Obviously, when you play for your country you want to play again. Now they’ve opened it up a little bit more, obviously I’m hoping that my performances at the club and playing European rugby can help me get back into the team.
“The way they talked about it as coaches, they felt like they needed to bring new players in and needed to run that through the Argentine Rugby Union, go to the head office and say they needed to bring this player in because they lack a bit of depth in that position. That’s how they’re going about it.
“They’ve only done front-rows at the moment, Juan Figallo [at Saracens], Gaston Cortes who’s playing for Leicester and players like that, but obviously that just shows it’s a bit more open at the minute, so hopefully that will bring chances to all of us playing abroad.
“Especially with Argentina coming to Scotland to play in November, I would like to be on the top of my game, so that when they come here they can see what I’m doing, what I’m about and obviously [with] the World Cup coming next year you never know.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a chance to chat them up, but it’s happened in the past that there might be some injuries, some knocks and they might invite you to train and get the chance to see a bit closer what you’re actually doing, [or] maybe get some footage or actually pop in to see you train and what sort of state you’re in health-wise, if you’re fit and looking good, so you never know.”
Socino will find out if he is going to get a chance to show what he can do against Montpellier in Saturday’s Champions Cup opener when Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill names his team for that match at lunchtime on Friday. He has appeared four times so far in his new club’s colours this season and made his second start against the Cheetahs last Friday night – playing 77 minutes.
Scotland cap Matt Scott and Chris Dean, two other contenders for a spot in Edinburgh’s midfield, missed that match because Cockerill was unimpressed with their performance the week before against Benetton.