Argentina: Michael Cheika wants to turn his side into World Cup contenders

Date published: May 6 2022 - Dylan Coetzee

Argentina head coach Michael Cheika is looking to instil a winning ethos into his team ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Earlier this year, Mario Ledesma’s resignation from head coach opened the door for the former Wallabies coach to take on the role, having already been involved with the squad as an adviser.

Tricky task

Cheika has just over a year to pull Los Pumas up from being ranked eighth in the world to World Cup contenders in just over a year, a task he believes in.

“This is me speaking,” Cheika said, “we don’t go into any match, any competition, any tournament, without targeting winning.

“Why else do you play if you aren’t going to target winning?

“What, you want to go and play to come sixth or to come fourth? All of that is just to make you feel good. Maybe you make a quarter-final to feel good.

“Where are we today? We’re certainly not in No.1 position in the rankings.

“But what I want to do is work smart, get players engaged in improving their level, make them believe that they can go further to achieve those goals and play your best every weekend, and see what happens. Because I believe.

“But it doesn’t matter what I believe, it matters what the boys believe.

“But I believe.”

The 55-year-old is brilliant at empowering his sides, building cohesion and getting the most out of his players. Cheika is looking to turn the team into a family as they build towards the showpiece event next year.

“We often talk about a rugby team as a rugby family, but in a family it’s unconditional love,” he continued.

“Your brother does something to you and you fight and you still love each other, but rugby is not unconditional; come here at this time, do this thing, lift these weights, these kilos, it’s conditions all the time, but where we become a family really is we believe we can do something together.

“This is the real way that a team become a family, it believes that each one in the team, that together we can achieve something, that maybe the people next door didn’t think we could do, or the other guys down the road, that other family, they didn’t think we could do this and that’s how we become a family together.”

The Australian believes that trust is fundamental in every team, and he is looking to use his experience to help set up a strong foundation for the team ethos.

“I’m a very humble guy, right,” he said. “You may not see it on the TV.

“I just try my best, use my experience, and try to have a good process in making good decisions and then help players get better and the support team get better, and then trust them to go and play good rugby.

“That’s the foundation of a good team is when we trust each other.

“I’m the type of person who is going to give you trust straight away and if we keep it, we go further. I don’t know if that makes me the best candidate, but they’ve trusted me to do this job and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”

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