Salem Radio Network News Saturday, September 30, 2023


Rugby-Back to basics key to Argentina revival under Cheika

By Nick Said

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – Argentina’s improvement under coach Michael Cheika is perfectly illustrated by away wins in New Zealand, England and Australia in the last 13 months, evidence if it were needed they have the potential to go far in this Rugby World Cup campaign.

They meet ailing England again in their Pool D opener in Marseille on Saturday, hoping for another victory to underline their potential and infuse more confidence into a group that is already not short of self-belief.

Australian Cheika led the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final, where they lost to New Zealand, and a quarter-final defeat to England four years later.

He is relishing a third go with Argentina and it was his ‘back to basic’ approach that has been behind their upward trajectory.

“When I took over (in March 2022), I knew exactly how I would go about it,” he told reporters on Friday. “It was about going back to the fundamental principles of Argentine rugby – the scrum, maul and lineout. That gives us a base and an identity.

“Over time we have begun to play with more possession, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but we have kept on improving. At times the consistency has not been there, but it is a work in progress, and will be even through this tournament.

“It has been great to work with these players, they are really receptive to new ideas.”

Cheika says the pressure he feels is the same whoever he coaches, but believes it brings out the best in him.

“I need a certain level of pressure, it is good to be nervous, it makes you focus. We just have to find that balance so that we concentrate and also play with the right intensity.

“We know we will have to give our best. We have finished our preparation and we are ready. We are eager to get going.”

Argentina also have Japan, Samoa and Chile in their group.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)


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