Wallabies wary of Argentinian versatility

by Staff Writer

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says they will be wary of Argentina’s growing versatility in their semi-final on Sunday.

While the Argentinians have long been known for their strong forward play Cheika said the attacking strengths they have developed since their inclusion in the Rugby Championship makes them more threatening.

“I’ve seen over a couple of years…they’ve had a clear strategy to develop their play to become much more expansive,” he said.

“They’ve seen they have players that can do that in their wider channels and they’ve got good playmakers and they’re able to do that off the back of the forward base.”

Cheika has familiarity with the Argentines having coached a number during his time at Leinster and said he had seen the ways their rugby had changed.

“They felt that going into the Rugby Championship full time, they needed to develop more of that game and they’ve gone about that quite methodically over the last couple of years,” he said.

“We’ve seen that happening in my small experience in the Rugby Championship this year but obviously watching the team develop over a couple of years, I’ve definitely seen that change in their style.”

The Wallabies have their own Argentinian forwards weapon in scrum coach Mario Ledesma but Cheika said he would be staying focused on the job at hand.

“It’s obviously a big week for him, very emotional, but he’ll stay focused on getting our scrum to improve and it needs to improve because there is obviously a very strong scrum,” he said.

“The combat in the forwards in general I think will be very important.

“I know they’re playing with a lot of width and good play out wide but that’s coming off a very good platform from the forwards, so that’s going to be a big battle for us.”

Both Australia and New Zealand showed some strong attacking play in their quarter-finals, with the Wallabies scoring five tries in their win over Scotland and the All Blacks running in nine against France.

Four southern hemisphere teams in the semi-finals for the first time in World Cup history, having shown more running rugby through the tournament but Cheika said it wasn’t necessarily an indication of one style being superior over another.

“I just think it’s the balance between what your support base feel and want your team to look like on the field,” he said.

“I don’t ever claim running is better than playing another way but it’s how our people like us to play rugby and it’s what we grow up playing.

“We want our team to play our style and make our people happy and pit those styles against others.”

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