Sunday 22 September 2019

Ledesma: I don't remember Joe being ruthless at Clermont

ARGENTINA coach Mario Ledesma. Photo: Getty
ARGENTINA coach Mario Ledesma. Photo: Getty

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

ARGENTINA coach Mario Ledesma came in off the pitch at the Aviva Stadium complaining about the Irish weather.

Once he'd warmed up after being doused by Dublin's November rain, the former hooker turned his attention to the task at hand - Ireland and his old mentor Joe Schmidt.

At Clermont, Ledesma was a senior member of the team that broke the club's long trophy drought in 2010 under Vern Cotter and Schmidt and the duo met for a beer on Thursday night to catch up ahead of pitting their wits against one another tonight.

"We had a beer yesterday," he said. "I've been all over the place and he's been winning, everywhere.

"But it was really good to see him. He's the same and that's the good thing about him. And it was really good to meet him and pick his brain a little bit.

"Not about the way they play or prepare, but about the feedback and how he plans the week or the season. It's really interesting as a young head coach. You try to get whatever you can from successful coaches like Joe.

"I was a bit of a nuisance as a player.

Struggling "If I had many of me in my team I would be struggling!

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

"But it was a little bit like that, and even when Vern was there he tried to give us that responsibility. So he would plan the whole thing, and maybe correct stuff, but he would let us do things too. Then maybe correct bits.

"It was good to have Joe there. His job was attack coach. When I heard he was really ruthless as a head coach I was surprised because he wasn't like that as an attack coach. But there you go.

"In front of the players you have to, as an assistant you don't have to be, but as head coach, he is the boss. I tried to be really tough as an assistant and I wasn't very good. When you are assistant, you only think about rugby.

"As head coach, you need to plan the whole season, even if you prepare for that, if you do not do it, you do not plan for it."

Still in his first few months as head coach after assisting at Australia and managing the Jaguares in Super Rugby, Ledesma conceded that Argentina's scrum is a work in progress and, in a turn-up from tradition, said he hoped to learn from Ireland's set-piece which he rates as technically the best in the world along with New Zealand's.

"They won't push you 20 metres, but with the All Blacks they are the best scrum technically, by a mile," he said.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport