Sio is back-up hooker – Ledesma

Date published: August 26 2015

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Wallabies assistant coach Mario Ledesma has confirmed that Scott Sio will be the team's back-up hooker at the Rugby World Cup.

There were a few eyebrows raised when Australia head coach Michael Cheika named his 31-man World Cup squad and captain Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau were the only hookers in the group.

But former Argentina hooker Ledesma said he played for his country as one of two hookers at the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups.

"We played with two hookers and a prop who can play hooker," he revealed. 

When asked who the back-up hooker is, he added: "That's a surprise."

But when the issue was raised again later, Ledesma replied: "If we have an injury that lasts only one week, we'll make the prop play.

"If it lasts longer, we just have to get the other hooker [James Hanson from the train-on squad] who has been training with us every day."

The Wallabies scrum guru was then asked if Sio was the player who would be used as Moore and Polota-Nau's cover and answered: "That's a possibility."

When asked if Sio was picked for the role because he had some experience as a hooker as a schoolboy, Ledesma answered: "Yeah … it wasn't too difficult [to work out], hey?"

Ledesma said it wouldn't be necessary "to convince" Rugby World Cup officials that Sio would be equipped to play as a hooker.

"When you go into a game you have to say who is playing tight or loose [head prop] – or if they are playing both," he explained when questioned about official formalities in team selection.

"If we don't put it there, they cannot play on either side; but if you put it there, nobody is asking you, 'Is this guy able to play both sides?' [With] the hooker, [it] is the same.

"I mean, he is a prop. It is not like we are playing a No. 9 as a hooker. That would be dangerous; but a prop as a hooker … there is no danger there."

Ledesma said he was not giving Sio extra tips on the intricacies of playing hooker.

"No … we are trying to prioritise," he added.

"He is working as a prop, and a little time here and there we will be working [on hooking]. But I'm real comfortable with 'Taf' and 'Squeak' [Moore] and if they get a serious injury, the third hooker will come.

"That is how a lot of teams have been doing it. I played four World Cups. We did every World Cup like that and nothing happened."

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