Hernandez ready for South Africa test
July 21, 2009
Is confident that he can impress in South Africa © Getty Images
Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez is looking forward to testing himself in South Africa after agreeing a one-year deal to play for Natal Sharks.
Hernandez, who leaves French Top 14 heavyweights Stade Francais, is set to follow in the footsteps of French playmaker Frederic Michalak, who won the Currie Cup with the Sharks last season before returning to Toulouse.
His arrival has been delayed by work permit wrangles, but he is now ready to echo the achievements of fellow Pumas Federico Mendez and Nicolas Fernandez Miranda in sampling the oldest club competition in world rugby.
With Ruan Pienaar the incumbent Springbok No.10, Hernandez will also provide vital experience after the Sharks began their campaign with teenager Guy Cronje pulling the strings.
"I chose South Africa because it's the highest level nowadays," he told ESPN Deportes. "They're the last World Champions and in the Super 14 they are dominating over the New Zealand and Australian teams. It's where the best rugby is, and I want to test myself over there."
Hernandez is confident that he has what it takes to excel in South African rugby, but is also aware of the time required for his family to settle in their new Durban home. He has acknowledged his desire to win the Heineken Cup, hinting that his one-year stay might precede a return to Europe.
"First I have to arrive and feel comfortable with the club and them with me as well," he said. "I have to see if I fit in at that level. My family of course take part in this decision of signing for one year or two, if it's ok for us I hope to sign for more.
"I'm confident of myself. I'm anxious; I want to play as soon as I arrive so I can demonstrate what I can do."
Hernandez announced his arrival as an international fly-half at the 2007 World Cup, switching seamlessly from fullback behind a bruising pack. In Sharks colours he is hoping to see similar grunt from his forwards.
"The players, I don't know them but I know they have a very good team with strong forwards," he said. "There's a good chance for me playing ten, it's easier playing with forwards going forward rather than backwards."
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen
Following a weekend where Wales suffered more heartbreak against Australia and the Aviva Premiership showed its class, the Monday Maul looks back at some of the key talking points