This interview is courtesy of www.sharksrugby.co.za
Having spent last week getting his conditioning up, Juan Martin Hernandez, the latest recruit to The Sharks camp, is now looking to bring his special brand of magic to his new side. We caught up with him and found out a little more about him.
Are you settling in OK?
Yes, very well, people have been great to me. I’m staying in Umhlanga, which I like and the people have all been very friendly. The weather is perfect, everything is really nice.
You’re from Buenos Aires right? Is the weather better than French winters?
Yes, the weather is similar to here in winter, maybe a little colder, it’s not that bad.
However, a lot different to playing in France right, especially in winter?
In Paris, it’s cold for five months. Imagine for five months it’s -1 or -2 degrees, you can’t catch the ball. If you are having a bad season and the coaches get angry, they give you contact sessions, that’s not good at all!
I believe your family is arriving quite soon to join you here in Durban?
Yes, I hope so. I have a wife and 4 month old son and I am looking forward to it. As soon as I am settled in, they’ll be here.
The conditions in South Africa, especially in winter are a lot better to what you’re used to, that must be pleasing ahead of playing in the Currie Cup?
I’m looking forward to playing in the conditions, but first I have to train and then the coaches have the choice of whether to put me in the team or not. And if I am in the team, depending on how the team plays, if the weather is OK and the match is open, I will be very happy to play.
Would you have considered playing in Australia or New Zealand, or was the pull of Currie Cup rugby important?
I was lucky enough to have a chance to watch Currie Cup rugby when I was younger in Argentina, and I always thought it was a great competition, very prestigious, not only for South Africans but also for us in Argentina where we watched it all weekend. It’s a good thing I’m here, not just for the Super 14 but also the Currie Cup and to try to be successful with The Sharks.
Your team mates now at The Sharks were players you played against in the Rugby World Cup, losing to the Springboks in the semifinals. How does that feel to be playing with and not against them?
No hard feelings! They are great players, I’ll be honoured to play with them at this level. Sometimes they say it makes it easier – I hope so.
What are your recollections of the Rugby World Cup? Argentina did extraordinarily well, but lost to the Springboks in the semifinals. When you think back, what are your thoughts and feelings of the tournament?
[He shakes his head and points to the goosebumps on his arms] – You know when you play rugby, you aim to play for the first team, and then it is the national team, then it’s the World Cup and it’s like a dream when you actually get there. Imagine someone takes your dream away in 80 minutes, it’s the worst thing in the world. South Africa are a great team, a world champion side, but it was the worst match we played in the World Cup. Maybe it was South Africa who played well and it was not a good day for us. But we lost, they took our dream away.
I’m sorry about that.
But still, as a rugby team, Argentina was a good team, we’ve done well. It was touching the moment we left after the final, some of the players were retiring, some would never play for the team again. It was touching saying goodbye to them because it had been such a good three months for all of us, it was a nice moment.
You played with Shaun Sowerby at Stade Francais, he also played for The Sharks. What do you think of him?
He is now playing for Toulouse. He is a very intelligent player. He is capable of passing, kicking, making the decisions, a really good player. He’s doing really well now. I also played with Brian Liebenberg, he is a good friend of mine.
You played at The Absa Stadium Durban in a curtain-raiser for a Super 12 match some years back, so you’re not a complete stranger here are you?
That’s right, I was playing for Argentina Under 19s, it was when the Hurricanes played The Sharks, in 2001, Jonah Lomu played that day. We drew our match against The Sharks Under 21s. It was a very good experience. I went and bought some souvenirs in the Sharks Cage afterwards [laughs].
Your nickname is El Mago – The Wizard – how do you feel about that?
I don’t like that name. I don’t feel comfortable with it. Juan is OK.
You will also be doing some work with The Sharks Academy, tell us a little more?
Rudolf Straeuli asked me if I could do some kicking with the youngsters and I said OK. When I was in Argentina as an Under 19 club player, I used to train the Under 16 side and it was a good experience.
How do you feel speaking in your third language (English) after Spanish and French?
I prefer speaking English, even though I have spoken French for the last six years. I think I will become more fluent in the next few weeks.Tweet