Australia’s Wallabies have turned to Argentina’s scrum doctor Mario Ledesma to change the perception that they are pushovers at scrum time in the countdown to September’s World Cup.
Ledesma, who played 84 Tests for Argentina as a hooker, has begun working with the Wallabies on set pieces after performing the same function for the NSW Waratahs through the Super Rugby season.
The Wallabies maligned scrum came in for more scrutiny after some shaky moments in their season-opening Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Brisbane last weekend.
Australia’s scrum has regularly been targeted by opponents over the last decade to great effect, and they will be under enormous pressure at the World Cup against pool rivals and scrummaging powerhouses England and Wales.
Michael Cheika’s men can expect another thorough examination in Mendoza this weekend against Argentina, a rugby nation renowned for their scrummaging prowess.
Ledesma, who represented Argentina at four World Cups over a 15-year international career up to 2011, does not believe the Wallabies scrum is their Achilles heel, but acknowledged that may be the perception outside Australia.
“What we are trying to do here, and I think we did it really well during the Super Rugby, is change that perception everyone has of the Australian team,” Ledesma was reported as saying by Australian Associated Press Tuesday.
“If you look at most of the Australian teams throughout the (Super Rugby) competition, they were dominating in the scrums, especially the Queensland Reds.
“It’s just showing everybody that we’re there to scrum, and we want to contest.
“We want to dominate over there and we want the least amount of penalties possible and get the referee out of the picture.”
Argentina’s two tries against New Zealand last weekend came from driving mauls following lineouts and Ledesma expected the Pumas to use that tactic and the scrum to attack Australia.
“That’s the DNA of the Argentinian team and I think they won’t be going away from that and they shouldn’t,” Ledesma said.
“But we will prepare for that and we’re really excited about those kind of battles.”
Ledesma conceded the Wallabies scrum struggled early against the Springboks, but felt it improved as the match progressed and especially after the second half substitutions. The Wallabies won the match 24-20.
“We didn’t start really well, mainly because we weren’t respecting what we planned during the week,” Ledesma said.
“But when we started getting it right in the second half especially the last couple of scrums, we put them under pressure and had good outcomes.” – Agence France-Presse