Argentina coach Michael Cheika at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney on November 14 2020. Picture: MARK KOLBE/GETTY IMAGES
Argentina coach Michael Cheika at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney on November 14 2020. Picture: MARK KOLBE/GETTY IMAGES

Melbourne — Former Australia coach Michael Cheika will give Argentina a “leg up” against the hosts in Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash in Newcastle when coaching from the Pumas’ box, Wallabies lock Ned Hanigan said on Tuesday.        

Cheika, who declared in May he could never coach against Australia, took a consultancy role with the Pumas in September and helped guide Mario Ledesma’s side to their breakthrough 25-15 win over the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.

“Having Cheika in a team, he’s got that sort of motivating aspect about him and he obviously knows Australian rugby really well,” Hanigan told reporters on a video call. “So he’ll definitely be an asset to them in a game like we’ve got on the weekend in Newcastle.”

With Ledesma as his scrum coach, Cheika guided the Wallabies to the final of the 2015 World Cup but quit after the team crashed out of the quarterfinals in Japan in 2019, Australia’s equal-worst performance at the global tournament.

Pumas captain Pablo Matera praised Cheika after the All Blacks match for helping the team believe they could topple the New Zealanders for the first time in 30 Tests.

Hanigan, who was handed his first test cap by Cheika in 2017, said he could see some of his former boss’s “DNA” in Argentina’s play.

“He’s obviously got plenty of expertise. He’s coached plenty of the players in the [Australia] side,” he added. “He’ll be a bit of a leg-up to Argentina this week, I reckon … He just likes winning.”

With the Tri-Nations silverware still up for grabs, Australia face Argentina two weeks after beating the All Blacks 24-22 in Brisbane, their first win under new coach Dave Rennie.

Hanigan could not see Argentina struggling for motivation against Australia after the huge emotional high of beating the All Blacks.

“I think [the momentum] just keeps adding. That on-field energy — you keep building,” he said.

Reuters

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