Argentine polo star Javier Novillo Astrada is to coach the England polo team after a shake-up in the squad’s management.

The former 10-goaler, who has won practically every major polo title, starts this week in his new role at the sidelines, working alongside former England captain Andrew Hine, who was named team manager last month.

The pair effectively replace long-term coach John Horswell, who is now running Fifield Polo Club, Berkshire.

Mr Novillo Astrada will take charge of strategy at international matches, as well as helping individual players and going to team practices.

In winter, he will remain involved with any squad members who are in Argentina.

David Woodd, chief executive of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), said: “Our priority was finding someone who is playing at top level in ‘four-man’ polo – such as the Argentine Open – and who all members of the squad respect highly. We’re very pleased Javier has agreed to take this on.”

Andrew Hine will be responsible for ponies, as well as providing a general point of contact for players.

Other members of the increasingly sophisticated entourage — made possible by Audi’s sponsorship and an enlightened approach that imitates mainstream sports — include chef d’equipe Andrew Tucker, who takes care of logistics, admin, overseas tours and sponsors; fitness trainer Winston Squire, and sports therapist Jane Newnham. Teams are picked by the HPA selection committee.

England’s first outing under the new management is on 21 June at the Beaufort against New Zealand.

Read this story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (12 June, ’08)