No loyalty dilemma for Ledesma

by staff

Regardless of which national anthem Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma is singing on Sunday afternoon, there's only one team that he'll be focused on.

The former Argentinian hooker has jokingly shed a tear around the team this week ahead of the second time Ledesma has faced his home country since taking on the Australia job.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said there was no doubting where Ledesma’s loyalties lied, though.

“I remember when we went to Mendoza to play in the Rugby Championships and we were walking up the stairs before the match and I said to him ‘are you going to sing your anthem?’... And he wasn’t sure if he was allowed or not,” he said.

“I said, ‘of course, that’s your heritage’ and I want him to love that.

“But I know he loves this team. He loves being involved in this team and he’ll do anything he possibly can this week to make sure this team is in the best possible spot going forward.”

Aside from their coaching connections, the Wallabies are very familiar with Argentinian rugby, having seen it develop firsthand through the Rugby Championship since 2012.

That familiarity meant while some northern observers were shocked at the quarter-final win over Ireland, few in the Wallabies camp were shocked to find themselves facing Los Pumas on Sunday.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he had seen highlights of Argentina’s quarter-final win and said they knew what to expect of their semi-final opponents.

“Every game is so different in the combination of the two teams at any time.

“What I saw of the game against Ireland - I’ve only seen the highlight parts of it and some specific bits, it’s exactly what I expect from them,” he said

“I know what they bring and I want to make sure the focus is on our team to make sure it’s all about us improving.

“We’ll do our absolute best there and let that talk.”

The South Americans comfortably overran an injury-depleted Ireland to make their second semi-final in eight years but a competitive effort against New Zealand in the pool stages showed glimpses of their potential as well.

Wallabies tight head Greg Holmes said there would be no danger of underestimating Los Pumas, who are starting to make a habit of going deep into tournaments.

“It’s definitely not a surprise to us,” he said.

“Having played them we only got over them in the last 15-20 minutes so we knew the power they had in their game and I think they showed against New Zealand earlier in the comp what they’re capable of,” he said.

“You can’t overlook anyone in this comp now and Argentina being in the Rugby Championship has really helped (them) as well.

“They’re a powerhouse in world rugby.”