The Pumas and the debut against Australia: time, TV and formations

Don’t make Cheika angry

It was October 6, 2018, at the Padre Martearena stadium in Salta. The Cougars They lived one of the best moments of the Mario Ledesma era: they cheered against the powers and even believed that they could beat anyone. And at the close of that Rugby Championship, Argentina was giving Australia a historic beating: they beat it 31-7 at halftime (He had never scored more than 30 points in the regulation 80).

However, until the final honk, everything can be modified. And there was a fact that was key to the change of face of the Wallabies: the talk that Michael Sheika, former coach of the Aussies, hit his target in the locker room. Although he did not transcend the audio, international television has already established the custom of placing cameras in the bowels of the campuses to be able to observe the preview of the meetings. And, indeed, they captured a sequence that remained forever: The DT entered the locker room (very) angry, began to shout and did not stop gesturing during the few minutes that the talk lasted.

At one point, Cheika – known as a born motivator – grabbed Bernard Foley’s shirt to remind his players what was at stake: the honor of the shirt and of a country. “I just wanted to say what I felt, that’s all”, he later confessed to journalists. And Foley was exactly the one who described that situation: “Definitely, he is a passionate guy. This is how he trains, he trains with his heart and the guys responded after the talk.”

It is that Australia was a waterspout in the second half. It really looked like another team on the court. With a different attitude, he turned it around until he won it 45-34.

Cheika, coach of Los Pumas.  (AFP)

Cheika, coach of Los Pumas. (AFP)

“When they played like they did in the second half, they showed that it really meant something to them,” Cheika said, post-match.

Precisely, that second half marked a turning point in Los Pumas. From dreaming of big things in the 2019 World Cup in Japan to being eliminated in the first phase and not being able to win a single game in the Championship that same season. And beyond the historic victory against New Zealand in 2020, the Ledesma cycle was cut earlier than expected and that is why Cheika arrived as head coach of the Argentine National Team.

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And Cheika, in that sense, will have today his first cross against his country. Despite having been Ledesma’s assistant and having suffered that moment (“it was very difficult”, he said at the time), the duel for the first date of the Rugby Championship will represent a greater challenge for him. “I feel like it would be almost like a traitor,” the Aussie had commented in a chat with The Times. But the opportunity to manage Los Pumas in a World Cup weighed more heavily on his scale and led him to accept this challenge.

Consequently, Cheika will try to continue drawing positive conclusions to continue instilling his idea in the squad before the 2023 World Cup in France, the great objective of this group.

The DT of Los Pumas, in the Martearena, but directing Argentina.  (Juano Teson)

The DT of Los Pumas, in the Martearena, but directing Argentina. (Juano Teson)

After the victory in the series against Scotland in the North, Los Pumas will host the Wallabies at 4:10 p.m. (captain Michael Hooper will not be present due to personal problems), at the Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. And it is a stadium that suits them more than well, since in 2018 they achieved their last victory at home in the Championship: it was 32-19 vs. South Africa.

“We have already begun to see some of the things we want,” said a Cheika, who was satisfied with what he had seen in the first games of his era, but who intends to continue along that line.

It’s not going to be something that makes him angry…

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