‘Mago’ Hernandez out of Argentina squad

Argentina’s Juan Martin Hernandez will miss the World Cup after failing to »»

Argentina’s Juan Martin Hernandez will miss the World Cup after failing to recover in time from knee surgery, reducing to 10 the number of veterans of the 2007 tournament in the Pumas squad named on Tuesday.

The talented Racing Metro flyhalf nicknamed “Mago” (magician), one of the outstanding players of the 2007 finals in France where Argentina finished third, has not fully recovered from a knee ligament operation in March. “He wasn’t in condition to get there,” coach Santiago Phelan said as he left Hernandez out of the 30-man squad for the tournament in New Zealand starting on Sept. 9 which he announced at a news conference at San Isidro Club on the outskirts of the capital. The squad, captained by Felipe Contepomi, contains 17 forwards includes seven front rowers, and 13 backs, a decision Phelan said was taken in view of the wear and tear in the pack. Phelan said the 28-year-old Hernandez, who also had back surgery early in 2010, had not been able to play for his country for two years so they had been preparing as if he would not be available. “The team was working without ‘Juani’, with Felipe [Contepomi] as number 10 and other alternatives. Hernandez’s inclusion was going to be an addition rather than someone being left out,” Phelan said. Nevertheless, Hernandez’s absence will be a major setback to Argentina’s hopes of at least coming close to their remarkable performance of four years ago with talismanic captain Agustin Pichot and other leading players having retired.