Cheika to help guide Pumas down under

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Argentina has taken on Cheika as an external advisor during the Rugby Championship.


Cheika and Pumas coach Mario Ledesma have worked together before, Ledesma having been an assistant coach for Cheika with the Wallabies for three years, including at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.


Ledesma said: "We started talking with Michael at the beginning of the year. I proposed that we work together again and he was immediately interested.


"We agreed from the first moment. He was very excited and has always liked Argentine rugby.


"He is a person who can bring us a lot of experience both to the group of players and to the staff," Ledesma said.


It was an opportunity for Argentinian management to continue learning because Cheika was a person who thought of a lot of things outside the box.


"He is innovative and has a super-creative vision, different from that of many coaches," he said.


After the decision to play the Championship in Australia, Cheika's advice about places to train, schedules and even what weather they could expect had been helpful.


"We have already been conducting several talks with him about matters of the game, defence, attack, types of exercises, individual techniques and other aspects," he said.

Ledesma said the challenge for Argentina, which has not enjoyed the playing benefits the Australian and New Zealand players have had, and which the South Africans will have from this weekend, was to arrive in Australia in the best shape possible.


"The first step is the head: working in adversity, and the second is the physical part," he said.


"This is going to be more difficult than a World Cup. Here you play against the best in the world every week."


The players would carry the burden of performance, but rotating players would be necessary and because of that a lot of work would have to go into their preparation.


"We have to coordinate values and team culture.


"At this moment we do have to compare ourselves with others but to think about ourselves. It sounds like a catchphrase, but there is no use right now thinking about how the Crusaders play. We don't have time to think about that," he said.


Ledesma also confirmed his squad would be clear of the coronavirus that had affected 13 of them.


Among those affected were: Tomas Cubelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando and Felipe Ezcurra.


Ledesma told The Sydney Morning Herald that most of those affected had recovered. He said he never had symptoms and most of those affected had been asymptomatic.


After 26 negative results at their most recent testing, Ledesma was confident that when leaving for Australia the side would be virus-free.


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