Los Pumas keep winning formula
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma says it’s not easy for Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika to take on his homeland in Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash in Newcastle.
Cutting ties with Australia after five years following a disappointing World Cup last October, Cheika is now in the Pumas’ coaching box for the tournament alongside Ledesma.
The pair go way back – working together at Stade Francais in 2011-12, the Waratahs and then the Wallabies.
Cheika brought scrum guru Ledesma on in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup, with the team advancing to the Final, where they lost to New Zealand.
Winning 84 Test caps with the Pumas before moving into coaching, Ledesma said it was tough to coach against one’s own country.
Between 2015 and 2017 Ledesma did it six times for six wins, including helping plot to eliminate Argentina in the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup.
“I was in his place a few years ago and it’s not easy,” Ledesma said on Thursday.
“He’s a very proud Australian and that’s not going to change.”
Ledesma retained the same starting line-up that upset the All Blacks for the McDonald Jones Stadium match.
It is once again spearheaded by workhorse captain Pablo Matera and includes star flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
Ledesma made three changes to the bench with hooker Santiago Socino, flank Facundo Isa and centre Emiliano Boffelli in for Facundo Bosch, Tomas Lezana and Lucio Cinti.
Playing their first Test in more than a year, the Pumas posted their first victory over New Zealand with a 10-point victory last Saturday in Sydney – with Sanchez responsible for all of their 25 points..
A victory for either side on Saturday will move them above the All Blacks to the top of the Tri-Nation standings, with Argentina last beating the Wallabies in 2018 on the Gold Coast.
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Emiliano Boffelli, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19.45 (05.45 Buenos Aires time; 08.45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Angus Gardner
TMO: Nic Berry