WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Working with Michael Cheika at the Wallabies for three years had helped Mario Ledesma turn around the performances of Argentina’s players, the Pumas coach has said ahead of their Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand in Nelson on Saturday.
The former national team hooker replaced Daniel Hourcade, who resigned in June following a terrible run of results for the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists, when they had just two wins in 17 games.
Ledesma was Cheika’s forwards coach from 2015-17 before he returned home to take over Super Rugby’s Jaguares this year.
The Jaguares were not only able to rejuvenate their waning traditional strong forward play but gel it with an attack-minded backline, which produced their first wins in New Zealand and their inaugural playoffs appearance this year.
“One of the biggest things I got from Australia is respecting the processes, having a plan and being more disciplined,” the 45-year-old told TVNZ on Friday of what he had learned from his time with the Wallabies.
“We’re a little bit more passionate (in Argentina) but the bad side for that is we’re not used to respecting systems and everything changes from one week to another.”
Ledesma, who played at four Rugby World Cups with Argentina, had a slow start with the Pumas as they lost their first game 34-21 against South Africa in Durban.
But they then produced a blistering first half in the return match in Mendoza two weeks ago to record a 32-19 victory, just their third win of the southern hemisphere competition.
The South Americans arrived in New Zealand late last week and based themselves in Auckland before heading to Nelson.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has chosen to give some of his less experienced players an opportunity to gain some international exposure as he eyes next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Ledesma, however, said it did not matter what players they faced at Trafalgar Park and they would need to ensure they did not get over-run as they had in previous All Blacks matches, where they were competitive until the final 20 minutes.
“The All Blacks get better every week and it doesn’t matter who they put on the field,” Ledesma said on Hansen’s selections.
“We want to compete for every ball and challenge them in every way possible and stay in the game for the whole game.
“You think you’re in the game until the 50th, the 55th minute and then you’re gone, they rip you apart.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O’Brien)