Jaguares and Argentina utility back Juan Martín Hernández has announced his retirement from all forms of the game with immediate effect.
The 35-year-old revealed that the knee injury he suffered in the Round Five Super Rugby match for the Jaguares against the Reds in Buenos Aires had spelled the end.
“The cruciate ligaments aren’t affected but it’s very painful and the demands of Super Rugby don’t allow me to play in this competition diminished,” Hernández told Midi Olympique.
“So I’ve decided to stop playing rugby. There you go, it’s finished.
“I didn’t want to have any regrets, I think I wanted the end to come on a rugby field.”
Hernández was one of the key players in the most successful Argentina Rugby World Cup campaign, in France in 2007, when they finished third, having beaten the host nation in a shock opening result in the tournament. While a utility back capable of playing fly-half, centre or full-back it was the pivot position that he preferred.
He became a key figure in the game in helping Argentina bridge the gap from the previous European connection with their game to their involvement with Sanzaar in southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and Super Rugby competitions.
Hernández played six years for Top 14 outfit Stade Français featuring in 123 games. He had a nine-game stint with the Sharks in Durban before returning to France with stints at Racing Metro (75 games) and Toulon (8) before becoming a foundation player for the Jaguares.
While he made his international debut against Paraguay in 2003, in a 144-0 win, he cemented his place in domestic Test matches before making his mark on the international stage during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. He missed the 2011 tournament in New Zealand due to operations on his knee, and he also appeared in the 2015 tournament in England.
Hernández played 74 Tests for los Pumas with his final appearance against Italy in November. He hinted that once he had recovered from his knee injury he might play some games for the club he started out with Deportiva Francisa.
However, he is taking a six month break from rugby and has hinted he may pursue a coaching career.
He had sporting genes: his uncle Patricio Hernández was a member of Argentina’s football team at the 1982 Fifa World Cup while his sister Maria de la Paz Hernández won a silver medal in hockey at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and bronze medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.