Australia’s newest scrum doctor Mario Ledesma is determined to change the world’s perception of the Wallabies as easybeats in that area, as he prepares for a hot reception back in the land of his birth.
Ledesma, who played 84 Tests for Argentina as a hooker, has recently started working with the Wallabies on set pieces after performing the same function for the NSW Waratahs through the Super Rugby season.
The Wallabies oft maligned scrum came in for another grilling after some shaky moments in the season-opening Test against South Africa last weekend.
They can expect another thorough examination next weekend in Mendoza against Argentina, a nation renowned for their scrummaging prowess.
The fixture marks the return home of former Pumas hooker Ledesma, who represented Argentina at four World Cups over a 15-year international career, which finished in 2011.
He denied the Wallabies scrum was 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 said.
“If you look at most of the Australian teams throughout the (Super Rugby) competition, they were dominating in the scrums, especially the Reds.
“I thought we had a really good run with the Waratahs too and I thought the Brumbies did really good.
“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 ref 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.
“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.”
Ledesma believes Australia will have an edge in front-row depth over Argentina.
“I thought they (the Argentinian scrum) were quite good (against New Zealand), especially in the first half,” Ledesma said.
“But then when the subs came in there was a big difference. I think they don’t have the same squad (front-row depth) as we do, like we did against the South Africans.”
Asked about the kind of reception he can expect back home Ledesma said “they will be alright at training, but maybe it will get a little bit warmer during the game, so I will try to hide!”