It’s the 64,000-mile dilemna for travel-weary Argentina

Juan Martin Hernandez.
Juan Martin Hernandez.
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Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade views the Pumas’ punishing schedule as the temporary but necessary cost of developing into a heavyweight of the game.

A total of 50 long haul flights have been racked up in 2016 by players representing their country in the Rugby Championship and the Jaguares in Super Rugby, the latter clocking 64,000 miles in air travel during the competition.

A gruelling year finally draws to a close when Argentina face England at Twickenham today and while Hourcade acknowledges the demands are brutal, he insists they are following the correct path.

“The travel has been really tough, really hard, but on the other hand it’s what we expected when we started all this,” Hourcade said.

“It’s been high level competition all year this year and the travel is something we have to reduce. It’s going to be better next year and the following year will be better again.

“We can’t complain, it’s something we have to get used to.

“It’s difficult for our bigger players, but this is our reality. It’s tough but we have to get used to it.

“To help us, we have to monitor the players with measures and controls in training.

“We take close notice of GPS and the intensity and length of training sessions. At times they have to be reduced so the players go into games in good condition.

“Many times the changes that are made to the team are because of this.

“We are really happy with what we are doing and what we are achieving.

“It takes a lot to do it and we consider we are going to encounter many issues we have to tackle.”

Argentina have lost six of their last seven matches and finished bottom of the Rugby Championship, but Hourcade refuses to wave the white flag against England.

“All teams have weaknesses, there are no perfect teams, but to find and take advantage of that weakness you have to play very well without making mistakes,” Hourcade said.

“On the other hand, records are meant to be broken. We hope we can break this record on Saturday.”

Juan Martin Hernandez has replaced ankle-injury victim Nicolas Sanchez at fly-half.

In total there are three changes to the side defeated by a last-minute penalty against Scotland last weekend, among them a new half-back pairing that sees Tomas Cubelli replace Martin Landajo to link up with Hernandez.

Hernandez, a survivor from the Pumas’ 25-18 triumph at Twickenham in 2006, moves from inside centre so Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias is elevated into the number 12 jersey.

Completing the changes is Leonardo Senatore’s promotion to the back row in place of Facundo Isa.

Hourcade said: “Having Hernandez in the starting line-up is always a benefit for the team and of course playing at 10 is a position that he prefers.

“It is not only Hernandez’s experience of that game which is important, it is his knowledge, his experience in many situations that is important for the team.”