Ledesma leaving Wallabies for Jaguares

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

After three years with the Wallabies, Mario Ledesma is returning to Argentina to chase his dreams.

The Wallabies scrum doctor has been by Michael Cheika's side since he was coach of the Waratahs but he will leave the Australian setup to be the head coach of the Jaguares in 2018.

His last game with the Wallabies will be the Brisbane Bledisloe, on October 21.

Cheika couldn't have been more complimentary of his great mate when asked about his impending departure post match.Michael Cheika is sad to see his good mate head back to Argentina. Photo: Getty Images"Argentina gave us a gift when they gave us Mario Ledesma,” Cheika said.

“In 2014 when we went on the tour, when I first took over, we got our scrum pummelled by the English in one game and if you’re a good person when you get a gift, you should always give one back.

“Now we’re giving a gift back because Mario Ledesma is a good man, he’s a great coach and as much as I’m sad that he’s leaving, personally as his friend and from a rugby point of view.

“Not only is he improving himself by having this position, which is what we want our people to do, but also he’s coming back to his family who he hasn’t seen for many, many years.

"It’s going to be a great thing for Argentinian rugby and hopefully the Jaguares will do very well except when they play against the Australian teams."

Ledesma addressed the players post match and told them of his decision, which came as an emotional surprise to the majority of the squad.Ledesma addressed the players after the match in Mendoza. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"I got a bit teary when he got up and spoke because he’s such a passionate guy, and they are the guys that make the environment pretty special," halfback Will Genia said.

“Just the love and dedication he has for each and every player, that commitment to being the best he can be at his job, it’s infectious.

“He’s done an amazing job in the last couple of years since the World Cup and we’ll miss him.

“He hasn’t been home for 20 years, I’m so happy for him that he’s been given the opportunity to get back home and spend time with his family."

Cheika forecast a temporary replacement for Ledesma that will join the coaching staff on the Spring Tour, before a permanent replacement is named for 2018 and beyond.

"I’ve spoken to a few people, I don’t want to talk about who for their own privacy, and it’s probably more about logistics.

“There’s one person in particular I’ve got my head on but it’s probably just about logistics right now, because other people have other commitments.

“It’s not a given what I’ll do there but over the next week we’ll try to finalise who’ll come on the tour with us.

“I’ll probably take a more active role in the forwards’ work over the tour in particular, because I don’t want to rush into appointing someone and I didn’t want to start the process of looking and talking about it until it became official."