Samu Kerevi going beast-mode for the Wallabies is the biggest threat facing Argentina in Townsville, according to wary coach Mario Ledesma.
Maintaining the rage to win three Tests in a row on Saturday night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium is as important to the Wallabies as breaking their 2021 duck is for the Pumas.
The Wallabies centre has been a revelation in his three Tests since being drafted into the side and not just because of his rampaging running.
There have been extra passing subtleties as well as that superb offload to Pete Samu against the Springboks last Saturday night when two defenders were draped over him.
His guaranteed go-forward is a great asset for Quade Cooper to utilise.
Ledesma’s long ties to Australia as Michael Cheika’s assistant coach for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs gives him rare insight into what makes the Australians tick. He will have Cheika beside him as a coaching consultant in Townsville.
Ledesma was on board with the Wallabies when Kerevi made his Test debut against England in 2016 so he’s well aware of how much he has improved.
“Samu makes such a difference. He brings such a physicality and go-forward that he sets up the platform better than forwards,” Ledesma said.
“You can see why they set up every play off him from set piece or as a dummy runner. He really dominates the centre.”
Ledesma was frank when assessing the Wallabies’ threat in 2021 compared to 2020 when the Pumas earned 15-all and 16-all draws in Newcastle and Sydney last November.
“We are playing a different beast than last year,” Ledesma said after Australia’s imposing 30-17 win over World Cup-winners South Africa last weekend.
“We are playing a team that is really confident and dominated the world champions.
“Obviously, it is the cattle as you like to say over here in Australia. That’s really important.”
Not only has the return of the Japan-based Kerevi made a huge difference but so has Cooper’s understated organisation and passing slickness in try-scoring plays.
“I think what we are seeing is a different maturity. Maybe, because of age he is playing much more for the team. He has had two very good games,” Ledesma said of Cooper.
Ledesma should expect more cattle to make a difference to the Wallabies in Townsville with Japan-based backrow bull Sean McMahon in line for a return.
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Ledesma’s commentary on the Wallabies was in answering to direct questioning. He is very much focussed on his own team magnifying the gains from last Saturday night’s 36-13 loss to the All Blacks and limiting ill discipline through the number of penalties his team is giving away.
“It was a definitely an improvement (on losing 39-0 a week earlier). I was proud of the effort but we still have to find improvement because we created a lot of opportunities that we didn’t turn into points,” he said.
Young flyhalf Santiago Carreras, 23, dabbed a pinpoint crosskick into the arms of winger Emiliano Boffelli for the Pumas’ only try. He is a young No.10 of excellent potential.
No one should underestimate how many sacrifices the Argentinians have made to keep their international rugby alive over the past 18 months during the COVID crisis.
They have gone through multi quarantine periods to play Tests in South Africa and Australia this season and have been isolated from family for an extended period.