No mind games coming between Cheika, Ledesma

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

There will be no mind games this week between Michael Cheika and long time friend Mario Ledesma, the former declaring the Argentinian coach "as good as family" before their sides clash on Saturday.

Ledesma spent the best part of four years working as Cheika's right hand man at both the Wallabies and Waratahs before making an emotional move home to Argentina towards the end of the 2017 season.

His rise from Jaguares to Pumas coach in the year since has been a rapid and Cheika quickly snuffed out any possibility of mind games ahead of the Wallabies' clash with the Pumas on the Gold Coast.

"Without a doubt he has been a very important part in developing this team," Cheika said.

"There is always going to be influence in us with him and him with us.Cheika and Ledesma go way back. Photo: Getty Images"But it's a little bit different I think this week.

"You come up against guys you know in different times and there is always a bit of hedging and mind games and everything like that but not this week.

"We are too close - we are as good as family."

Ledesma steered the Jaguares to their most successful Super Rugby season ever in just his first season in charge and perhaps most importantly, turned their previously wretched away form around.

Wins over the Rebels, Brumbies, Blues and Chiefs on either side of the ditch kicked off a seven game winning streak through the middle of the season as Ledesma finally unlocked the untapped potential within the Jaguares.

"He has done a great job this year with everything that has happened," Cheika said.

"In the small amount of times that he has had them he has really delivered.

"Once the whistle blows it will be war but it's respect before then."

The immediate success Ledesma has enjoyed is of little surprise to Cheika, who will likely catch up with his great mate at some point this week.

"He wants to learn and he was really eager," Cheika said of Ledesma.

"He brought a lot of new ideas and he was really passionate.

"He was a great balance between the Latin influence and the Anglo-Saxan influence.

"I think he can take that back the other way.

"I've really enjoyed watching his teams play since he has taken over there and I am looking forward to going up against each other."

The Wallabies face the Pumas at Robina Stadium on Saturday, kicking off 8pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and radio.