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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Argentina wait to hear if veteran out-half Hernandez is fit to face Ireland

The former Stade Francais, Racing and Toulon 10 picked up a knee injury last weekend.

Hernandez has scored 176 Test points for the Pumas.
Hernandez has scored 176 Test points for the Pumas.
Image: Mike Egerton

ARGENTINA ARE HOPING veteran out-half Juan Martin Hernandez will shake off a knee problem in time to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The 35-year-old came off the bench during the Pumas’ defeat of Italy in Florence last weekend but sustained the injury and is now a serious doubt for the final game of his side’s season.

Argentina trained in Donnybrook on Monday and Tuesday and will have one final session tomorrow morning before head coach Daniel Hourcade names his team to face Ireland.

They will give Hernandez — the 74-time capped out-half — every opportunity to prove his fitness in time but Nicolas Sanchez, who kicked nine out of 10 attempts at goal during the 2015 World Cup quarter-final between the sides, provides another option for Hourcade.

Argentina have reported no other injury problems ahead of the final November Test of the Guinness Series, although they come into the game on the back of an exhaustive 11-month season which has seen them board over 50 long-haul flights.

The policy of selecting only home-based players mean all but two of the squad which arrived in Dublin on Monday featured for the Jaguares during their Super Rugby campaign, with the resource pool to pick from much smaller for Hourcade than most other nations.

“At the moment we cannot control that,” assistant coach Pablo Bouza said of the selection policy.

“We know that we cannot pick the players that are not playing for Jaguares so we know the players that are available. You can develop some players then, the people who are here.

“We are learning about that this year. This year we have not used too many players. I think about 32 or 34, maybe. If you compare that to other teams they play with about 45-50. This is different.

“It has been a learning curve for us. This is our second year competing in the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, and I think we are in better shape, compared to playing England this time last season (which they lost 27-14).

“It’s different for our team, we’re the only team in the world that play about 30 matches (between club and country) together since January.”

Bouza, capped 37 times by the Pumas during a nine-year international career, says Ireland’s defence has impressed so far in this November window.

“Defence. And how clinical they were in attack,” he says. “They have to score. Their defence was excellent. At the end of the day South Africa cannot score. So it is obviously a good team. They didn’t score a try. Ireland made it very difficult.

“It is important for us to stay in the game and not to give Ireland the ball and attack. They showed how good they are against South Africa.”

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