Ledesma expecting more "direct" Wallabies in Brisbane

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma is expecting a more “direct” Wallabies outfit in Brisbane this weekend as the Argentinians look to replicate last year's Gold Coast victory up the M1 this weekend.

Ledesma has coached the Pumas twice against the Wallabies since he left the Australian setup at the end of 2017.

The Argentinians took the first clash, on the Gold Coast, before a record second-half comeback from the Wallabies in Salta evened up the 2018 ledger.

Australia’s super-sized centre combination of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani was the biggest shift for the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener, with Kerevi particularly making an impact in Johannesburg.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has hinted he could revert to a dual playmaker 10-12 role against the Pumas but Ledesma said he expected to see that more direct style of attack in Brisbane.

“This will be the third time we’ve played. We won once and they won the second one after a half-time speech from Cheik,” he said.

“I think they're playing a more direct style of rugby, especially because they have very big guys, and I thought they were biting onto that advantage line really hard so it'll be a challenge to stop their momentum,” he said.

The Pumas showed some positive signs in a 20-16 loss to the All Blacks and Ledesma said they took a lot of optimism out of the fact they put New Zealand under pressure right until the end.

“It was disappointing, we could've won on the last ball but I still think that those four points, it's not a big difference but it (shows) the work that we have to do to win those kind of games,” he said.

“The boys will be up to it, they were really excited because while the performance was good, the result wasn't, but still having the All Blacks against the ropes is quite a good performance.”

Ledesma said while his side was feeling confident after that All Blacks match, they wouldn’t have any sense of overconfidence heading into a clash against a Wallabies outfit that lost to the Springboks 35-17 last weekend.

“If they scored those two tries in the first half, we'd be talking about after 60 years the Wallabies have won in (Johannesburg) so that's high performance sport, elite sport, it goes one way or the other,” he said.

“The boys they've been working really well with the Jaguares and now with the Pumas. 

“They're confident, not confident because we're playing the Wallabies just because of the work they've been doing.”

Jaguares made up 21 of the 23 Pumas players last weekend but Ledesma said this weekend could be a chance to blood more overseas-based players, as they seek to find a balance between the formula that gave them Super Rugby success and one that will make them just as competitive at the Rugby World Cup.

“It's tricky and we have six guys from overseas and at one point we have to make them play too if we want them to go to the World Cup,” he said.

“We'll definitely see some new faces against the Wallabies but obviously that balance between what they've done and what we want to do in a week’s worth of work, so it's really challenging.”

The Pumas arrived in Australia on Monday night and will be staying in Sydney until Thursday, before heading to Brisbane for this weekend’s Test.

The Wallabies host the Pumas on Saturday July 27, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on Network Ten, FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.Buy tickets here.