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Jaguares looking to do better in Super Rugby

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

While the Jaguares have been struggling to make an impact in the Southern Hemisphere competition Ledesma has been honing his coaching skills with the Wallabies in Australia but the 84-cap Test veteran said he was achieving a dream by coaching rugby in his homeland.

The Argentine Rugby Union made the announcement this week. Ledesma will be assisted for the next two years by Martin Gaitan, who has been associated with the side since they started in Super Rugby last year, and Nicolas Fernandez Meranda.

Ledesma played for Argentina from 1996 to 2011 and played in four World Cups. He sits fourth on the list of Test appearances for Argentina. During his playing career, spent mainly in France, he played for Narbonne, Castes and Clermont, winning a Top 14 title with Clermont in 2010.

He began his coaching liaison with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika at Stade Francais in 2011-12 and then had two seasons at Montpellier with Fabien Galthie. When Cheika took over the Waratahs in 2014, Ledesma joined him and he moved into international coaching when Cheika took on the Wallabies in 2015.

Ledesma told the Jaguares website, jaguars.com.ar, "Since I started training and decided to be a coach, my goal was to train in Argentina. By deciding to go back now it is because I consider I have the necessary tools to coach, not only from the technical point of view but also from the leadership position. I think I had to learn that aspect, how to pass the messages on to players and how to handle the empathy with them."

He said he wanted the Jaguares to develop their own style and not attempt to play in the manner of the sides they faced in the competition. While they could adapt some specific areas of their game, the scrum, the lineout and the defence would be the same crucial areas as always.

"What we do on the field has to be an expression of us. I want, when people see us play that they say 'this is what these guys are all about, they work hard and they never take a step back'.

"If we can instill that in the team, and reflect that to our fans, people will realise we're going to do better," he said.

The new format for next year would be more demanding, and interesting, but it would be more fun and that was a good thing, he said.

Lesdesma will complete his association with Australia after next week's third Bledisloe Cup Test.

Both his assistant coaches have backgrounds in the international game. Meranda played 48 Tests between 1994 and 2007. He won 11 Argentine club championships between 1991 and 2010 while as a coach from 2011-17 he has won seven championships.

Announcing their appointment, board chairman Fernando Rizzi said having Ledesma and Meranda appointed was a synthesis of their international experience, professional training in coaching while also having a strong link with the history of Argentine rugby and something the board felt was necessary for the Jaguares to continue their growth in Super Rugby.

The trio, Rizzi said, "Consolidates the construction of a staff with experience and professionalism enough to face the challenge for the UAR [Argentine Rugby Union] to participate in the most demanding competition in the world."