Pumas to play big names against Randwick

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Fans can expect Argentina’s biggest names to grace Coogee Oval in their match against Randwick on Saturday.

Saturday’s clash is the Pumas’ final hitout before they head to the World Cup in Japan and coach Mario Ledesma said they would be looking to field a team similar to that which will run out against France in their World Cup opener.

Exactly how much game time their biggest stars get will depend on their load but Ledesma said they wouldn’t be resting any players fully.

“The S&Cs are going to make the final call, some guys they're going to play 30, some guys they're going to play 40 or 50 depending on the load they've been having the last couple of months,” he said.

“The Jaguares played a lot of footy this year, that's why we didn't want a very demanding test - not saying anything about the Wicks, I'm a fan-  but we've got to start with a pretty similar team.

“We're going to try a couple of combinations, especially with the backs, a couple of young players that we brought from the competition over in South Africa and then obviously it’s going to be the S&C who's going to say how much they're going to play.”

Randwick will be fielding their strongest team too. Waratahs lock Ned Hanigan has been cleared to play, among eight NRC players released for the clash.

Former Brumby Andrew Walker will be among the team on the weekend as well, with the evergreen 45-year-old training with the team on Tuesday night.

Aussie Sevens rising star Jeral Skelton is another recent addition to the Wicks side, at training this week, lining up alongside a number of other Aussie rookies.

Ledesma said he was glad to see that the NRC coaches were willing to release their players for the clash.

“The more the better. We asked Randwick to reinforce themselves and I think they tried to, especially in the front row, but we'll see how it goes on the weekend,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty young team.

“I saw some of those players playing in the U20s this year - two really interesting flyhalves that were training over here this morning.

“I think that Ned's playing, almost sure, apparently there was back and forth over there. There was some pressure from Country but it will be good for him to play against us and it will be good for us to have a guy like Ned in front but apparently it's a pretty young team.”

The Pumas head to Japan next Monday and Ledesma is hoping that the 10 days they’ve spent in Australia will have minimised the impact of travel on his side.

“We wanted to cut in half the trip over there and jetlag, we'll get rid of the jetlag over here and go to Japan almost in the same time zone,” he said.

Argentina open their Rugby World Cup campaign on Saturday September 21 against France in Tokyo.