Hernandez to lead the Pumas' attack
June 3, 2009
Juan Martin Hernandez starts in the No. 10 shirt against England at Old Trafford on Saturday © Getty Images
Argentina have picked a strong team to play England in the first of two tests starting at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The side will be led by Toulon's new recruit Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe while the attack will be spearheaded by the talismanic Juan Martin Hernandez who starts at fly-half in the absence of long-term injury casualty Felipe Contepomi.
"It's a great opportunity for Hernandez to show what he is capable of because he is a truly great player, but all the players are looking forward to the game," said Pumas coach Santiago Phelan. "They are in very good condition and have trained hard this week. We're definitely ready for England on Saturday.
"Lobbe is not only a great player and captain but he's also a great person. He has the respect of all the players and has captained the side previously when Felipe has been missing, so we know he will do an excellent job."
Hernandez and No. 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon are available after their club, Stade Francais, failed to qualify for the finals of the French Top 14 final. Other notable inclusions are Harlequins' centre Gonzalo Tiesi while the Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza and London Irish scrm-half Alfredo Lalanne are on the bench.
The second test takes place seven days later in Salta, Argentina, and after winning their last test in 2006 against England at Twickenham they will be hopeful of yet another victory on English soil.
Their chances would seem to be boosted by England's 33-26 loss last week to the Barbarians at Twickenham and they will hope history won't be repeated as three years ago England's loss to the Pumas was the catalyst for Andy Robinson losing his job as head coach.
Phelan also put forward his belief that England are still strong despite missing players on Lions duty, and pointed to their second-half showing against the Barbarians as proof.
"England are still very strong and they finished the game extremely well. Yes, they have players missing at the moment but their strength in depth is still unbelievable and we know we are in for a very tough game on Saturday."
Argentina: Agulla (Brive), Aramburu (Dax), Tiesi (Harlequins), Avramovic (Montauban), Camacho (Harlequins), Hernández (Stade Francais), Vergallo (Dax), Lobbe (Toulon, captain), Leguizamon (Stade Francais), Galindo (Racing Metro), Albacete (Toulouse), Carizza (Biarritz), Orlandi (Rovigo), Basualdo (Toulouse), Roncero (Stade Francais).
Replacements: Guiñazu (Agen), Ayerza (Leicester), Lozada (Toulon), Abadie (Capitolina), Lalanne (London Irish), Fernández (Hindu), Amorosino (Pucara)