Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Famous Faces Abroad - Argentines at Racing Métro 92

After a tremendous season in their return to the Top 14 in 2009-2010, Racing Métro 92 have bought a number of great players for the 2010-2011 season. None of them are more important than Pumas flyhalf, Juan Martín Hernández who is returning to play in France after playing last season for the Natal Sharks in South Africa. Hernández was, without question, the best flyhalf at Rugby World Cup 2007 and was the best flyhalf in the Top 14 from 2007-2009 when playing for fellow Parisian club, Stade Français. In moving to MR 92 Paris, the club will have three Pumas in their squad for the season.

In total, Hernández has played 32 tests for Los Pumas including a combined total of 9 appearances at Rugby World Cup´s 2003 and 2007. He debuted for Argentina in 2003 vs Paraguay and is considered as being crucial to Argentina´s chances at Rugby World Cup 2011. He has been out of action since October 2009 with a back injury but is back in training now in preperation for the new season.

In place of the injured Hernández, Argentina have not been the same side. They have lost a number of tests which Hernández could well have swung around in favor of the South Americans. Santiago Fernández and Felipe Contepomi have been used at 10, but both are prefered as 12's by Pumas coach, Santiago Phelan. For MR 92 Paris, Hernández is likely to form a lethal 10-12 combination with World Cup champion Springbok François Steyn. Coincidently, Steyn also used to play for the Natal Sharks.

Tucumán's backrower, Alvaro Galindo, arrived at the club from Beziers in 2008 and needs a good season if he is to be selected for Los Pumas for Rugby World Cup 2011. Galindo debuted for Argentina vs Uruguay in 2004 but has been unable to cement his place in the team. He has only played 8 tests for Los Pumas in 6 years. He was unlucky to badly injure his knee during the previous season which saw him miss over 6 months of the season. Galindo was likely to feature for Argentina in the November 2009 international tests vs England, Wales and Scotland. In his place, Argentina seleced Alejandro Abadie, Alejandro Campos and Tómas Leonardi. All three players along with Genaro Fessia are now the prefered options to accompany Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamón in the Pumas back-row. Galindo really needs to play well for MR 92 Paris to do all he can to make the Pumas squad for Rugby World Cup 2011.

A native of Mendoza, Pumas prop Juan Pablo Orlandi will be playing his second season for the club after previously playing in Italy for Rugby Rovigo in the Super 10. Orlandi has played 5 tests for Argentina since debuting in November 2008 vs France in Marseilles. He was selected as tighthead prop for the match in place of the injured Martín Scelzo. He maintained the Pumas number 3 shirt for the next 3 tests but was dropped for the home test in Salta vs England in June 2009. He did enter in the second half as a replacement for Stade Français captain, Rodrigo Roncero but has not played for Argentina since. Orlandi is in need of a big season for Racing Métro 92. If he is to be selected for Rugby World Cup 2011 he really needs to perform well. Currently, he is behind Scelzo and Montpellier´s Juan Figallo.

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