Emiliano Boffelli's rise is down to Edinburgh coaches, says Argentina boss

We are running out of superlatives for Emiliano Boffelli but Argentina’s coach Michael Cheika believes the role of the Edinburgh staff in the player’s rise deserves recognition.

Emiliano Boffelli helped Argentina beat New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)
Emiliano Boffelli helped Argentina beat New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Boffelli has helped inspire the Pumas to stunning away wins over New Zealand and England this year as well as delivering the decisive blow in the summer Test series against Scotland. The sides will lock horns again at Murrayfield on Saturday, with Boffelli selected on the left wing for what is the final instalment of the Autumn Nations Series for both teams.

Cheika believes the player has added consistency to his abundant talents since joining Edinburgh from Racing 92 in summer 2021.

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“I think he’s really flourished playing up here,” Cheika said. “He’s enjoyed the environment that he’s playing in, and that’s a credit to his coaches in Edinburgh. “And he’s been very consistent with how he’s been the whole trip since we came together in July. He’s improved his game a lot.

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“I’m conscious of not giving him too big a head before the weekend, so I’m not going to give him too many raps. Concentration is the key and I think that’s been a huge improvement in his game - he’s been able to focus on the game at hand. He’s been able to eliminate distractions that can affect players at this level, and thus his performances have improved as well. He’s a good guy to coach, there’s no doubt about it.

“I think the important thing for him is just to stay consistent this week and not let those distractions [affect him]. It’s a bit odd, because you’re playing with your national team at a place you call home for the moment.”

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Boffelli has flourished under Mike Blair’s tutelage at Edinburgh and become a hugely popular player with supporters and team-mates alike. Assured under the high ball, potent in attack and deadly off the tee, he has weighed in with 195 points from 21 games since moving to the capital.

His club form has transferred to the Test arena, with Boffelli scoring 20 points in Argentina’s landmark 25-18 win over the All Blacks in Christchurch in August, and 25 in the 30-29 victory over England a fortnight ago. Things went against the Pumas in Cardiff last weekend, with Wales winning 20-13, but Scotland are braced for more Boffelli brilliance.

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Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair has helped bring out the best in Emiliano Boffelli. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Murrayfield holds mixed memories for Cheika. He was in charge of Australia in 2017 when Gregor Townsend masterminded Scotland’s record 53-24 win over the Wallabies. But the coach also knows success at the ground, his Leinster side having beaten Richard Cockerill’s Leicester 19-16 in the 2009 Heineken Cup final.

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“This will be my first chance to be here with Argentina so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Cheika. “I have a lot of good memories here – we won a European Cup and it’s a great place to come and play footy, great crowd and always a great atmosphere.”

Cheika has made four changes. Captain Julian Montoya returns at hooker, replacing Agustin Creevy, and Bautista Delguy (wing), Matías Orlando (outside centre) and Eduardo Bello (tighthead prop) come in in place of Mateo Carreras, Matias Moroni and Francisco Gómez Kodela, respectively. There are also changes on the bench with Lautaro Velez-Bazan covering scrum-half and Nicolas Sanchez in as back-up stand-off.

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Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Matías Alemanno, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 6 Juan Martín González, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Pablo Matera.

Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Lautaro Velez-Bazan, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matías Moroni.

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