Pumas coach Mario Ledesma has dismissed the notion that Argentina “hoodwinked” SANZAAR with their inclusion in Super Rugby.
Argentina’s Jaguares made the Super Rugby final this season, falling to the Crusaders, and much of that squad has carried into the Pumas outfit ahead of the World Cup.
Amid their run to the Super Rugby final, former Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns said on FOX SPORTS that the Argentinians had tricked the competition into effectively allowing entry to a Test team.
“They’re the national team … they shouldn’t even be in the comp,” Kearns said at the time.
“If you want national teams put them in a comp. This is a provincial competition
“I think Argentina have been incredibly smart and have hoodwinked the rest of SANZAAR, because they’re going to have a magnificent World Cup team.”
Ledesma hit back that that suggestion, saying they were simply “doing what they were supposed to do” in being competitive in Super Rugby.
“Firstly, that's what we're supposed to do,” he said.
“If we're not competitive - it's in the contract, if we don't have our best players and we're not competitive, we're out of the competition.
“So, we needed to be good to stay in the competition. Obviously everybody knew the rules when we started and nobody seems to care about the number of Test caps that the Crusaders have or Waratahs or Brumbies or whatever but I think there was only one guy that said that and all the others were supporting us.
“Many of the guys working on TV or even the players, when they were asked, they were saying it was good to play against good teams and stuff like that.
“It's not even our decision - if we're still in the competition, we'll compete and if we're not anymore we won't.”
Ledesma coached the Jaguares in 2018 before being elevated to the national job and said earlier in the week, he hoped that Argentina could develop the depth to even have a second Super Rugby franchise.
“They've been gaining experience throughout every year and if you take only the statistics of the game they've played and the games they've won, we kept winning more games the next year and the next year and last year was the first time we qualified for the quarter-finals,” he said.
“This year, we went to the finals. It's just a progression and it talks highly of the processes and the systems that have been put in place for the last couple of years in Argentina.
“(For many of our) players, the experience and the intensity and the level of competition that they get from Super Rugby, made them better players.
“We have many other players that develop really well just by competing against better players.
“In the future, I would love us to have another franchise if we have the depth.”
The Wallabies host Argentina on Suncorp Stadium 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.