Reports: Michael Cheika tipped to replace Mario Ledesma as Los Pumas boss
Ledesma resigned from his role at the helm of the Argentine national side following a horror 2021 campaign where they went winless in the Rugby Championship and won only three of their 12 tests, all while not playing a single match in Argentina.
That record is stark in comparison to Argentina’s showing in 2020, when they came second in a truncated Tri Nations series after beating the All Blacks for the first time and went unbeaten in two tests against the Wallabies in Australia.
Those are now distant memories, though, and Los Pumas are in dire straits 18 months out from next year’s World Cup in France.
However, Argentina may have the answer to their problems in the form of Cheika, who, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion, is reported to be unveiled as Ledesma’s successor.
Cheika worked in a consultancy role for Argentina during the 2020 Tri Nations and 2021 Rugby Championship, and ESPN reports that Union de Argentina president Marcelo Rodriguez could announce Cheika as Los Pumas boss as early as this week.
Since departing as Wallabies head coach following a dismal 2019 World Cup campaign, culminating in a heavy quarter-final defeat to England, Cheika has worked in various positions across the world.
In addition to his assistant role for Los Pumas under the guidance of Ledesma, who was his assistant at the Wallabies, Cheika holds the director of rugby position at the NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu in Japan’s League One competition.
He was also due to coach Lebanon at last year’s Rugby League World Cup before its postponement to the end of this year, and is currently working as a pundit for Stan Sport and Channel Nine in Australia.
If the 2015 World Rugby Coach of the Year is appointed as Los Pumas head coach, he could square off against the Wallabies in a World Cup quarter-final next year.
With the Wallabies in Pool C alongside Wales and Fiji, and Los Pumas in Pool D alongside England, Japan and Samoa, the top-ranked teams from those pools will play the second-placed sides in the opposite group in the first knockout stage.
That would provide Australian rugby with a tantalising storyline, although Cheika would come up against the Wallabies before then in the Rugby Championship.
The Wallabies are scheduled to face Los Pumas twice in Argentina in August, with the first test to be played at Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario in San Juan, and the second at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza.
Los Pumas will also host Scotland in a three-test series in July before going on to play further Rugby Championship fixtures against the All Blacks in Hamilton and Christchurch, and against the Springboks in Buenos Aires and Durban.
At the time of writing, only one Los Pumas fixture has been locked in for the November test window, which will come against England at Twickenham.