Clermont Fly Half Patricio Fernandez to Miss 8-10 Weeks of Play
Patricio Fernandez, the 22 year old Argentinian phenom, and current Clermont Fly Half suffered a torn Hamstring injury in Clermont’s match this weekend against Toulouse. According to L’Equipe, ‘Fernandez will not be expected to return to Clermont Auvergne until March’ and this has been confirmed by the club (below).
— ASM Rugby (@ASMOfficiel) January 3, 2017
It comes prior to major Top 14 showdown against Toulon, and Fernandez’s injury compounded Clermont’s loss to Toulouse. A disaster for both club and player, as Fernandez was 3/4 with his kicking until he was taken from the field, shortly after half-time.
Young Argentine First Five In Fine Form
Patricio Fernandez has had a phenomenal season for Clermont in his first year with the French club. In the first half of the season, Fernandez has scored five tries, and 21 successful kicks. Fernandez has been well known as one of the top young fly half’s in the world. His time as first-five for the Argentinian U20s squad made his future bright for the Pumas.
In a strategic move, Fernandez decided last year to leave Argentina behind when offered the backup position with Clermont. His performance during the end of last year earned him a starting role. Splitting time with Camille Lopez at the beginning of this season, that situation now will change. Clermont must rely solely on Lopez, with Fernandez unavailable in the coming months although options can include Morgan Parra and Benson Stanley.
The veteran Lopez will hope to maintain the team in Fernandez’s absence. While weaker in the try scoring department, the 11 time French cap has had 20 successful kicks so far this season.
Round 16 Match Against Toulon a ‘Must Win’ for Clermont
Clermont currently sit at top of the Top 14 table. Due to losing three out of their last four away matches, they now find themselves tied with La Rochelle. The high-spending team from the Bay of Biscay, La Rochelle have made a significant improvement from last year and are poised to make a strong run at the final this year.
Knowing this, Clermont must handle a unstable Toulon team fresh off of a home win against defending champs Racing 92. The loss now of their try scoring fly half will be difficult for Clermont to adjust to. The Franck Azema coached side will need all of the offensive weapons available to them, to handle the strong Toulon defense. Clermont will have a strong advantage at home, as Top 14 competition is very dependent on home field advantage. La Rochelle this weekend also has a home match, but against a weaker opponent in Castres Olympique.
The conclusion is, if Clermont can handle their fly half situation, both teams are likely to win this weekend. A resurgent La Rochelle will be more likely to find a bonus point win than Clermont, in this reporters mind. Unless Clermont can fill Fernandez’s offensive gap, it is likely that they may lose their position on top of the table.
— #RugbyNewZealand (@RugbyNZ_) January 3, 2017
While injury is a by-product of any sport, the loss of Fernandez could be felt deeply by the Clermont Auvergne side. How they bounce back will be proof of whether they are Top 14 champion material in the 2016/17 season. After round 16 Top 14 matches conclude, that picture will be made a lot clearer.
“Main photo credit”