Rugby World Cup
Hernandez suffers injury blow
March 7, 2011
Pumas playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez suffered a knee injury playing for Racing Metro against Bourgoin in France on Saturday © Getty Images
Pumas playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez is facing a race against time to be fit for this year's Rugby World Cup after suffering a knee ligament injury.
The Racing Metro star sustained cruciate ligament damage to his right knee during his side's 38-19 Top 14 victory over Bourgoin at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble and is likely to be sidelined for six months.
Hernandez knows he is up against it to feature in the sport's showpiece event, that will be staged in New Zealand during September and October, but is determined to win his fitness battle. "We are not far from the World Cup and the timescale is very tight but I will do the impossible to be there and fight for a spot in the team," he told his own website.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan is likely to give his star man until the very last minute to prove his fitness and there is speculation in South America he may grant him a squad place even if Hernandez is only able to play in the knockout stages. The Pumas open their Pool B campaign against England on September 10 and also take on Scotland, Georgia and Romania.
Team doctor Guillermo Botto was realistic when asked about Hernandez's chances of appearing in the game's showpiece event. "Usually this kind of surgery takes six months to recover from. And we're exactly six months away from the World Cup," he said. "So we have to be optimistic and work towards that. He will obviously not have the ideal training, and will miss the rhythm of playing matches before the World Cup, but he may be fit to play in New Zealand."
The 28-year-old, who was part of the Argentina squad that claimed third place at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, won the last of his 32 Test caps against England in 2009. He has suffered a similar injury before, in 2002 and on that occasion he returned seven and a half months later.
More recently missed out on the Pumas' end of year campaign with a hamstring injury. He also saw a stint with South African Super Rugby outfit The Sharks last year ended by a back injury before agreeing a switch to Racing Metro this season.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.