MENDOZA, Argentina : Australia will look to put a home series loss to England behind them and get their Rugby Championship campaign off to a flying start against Argentina on Saturday, while their former coach Michael Cheika will be doing everything he can to stop them.
The teams come into the game in Mendoza fresh from contrasting results in three-test series last month.
While the Wallabies were beaten 2-1 by England, Argentina scrapped a last-gasp series success over Scotland despite multiple injuries as they hosted test rugby for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a winning start to Cheika’s tenure with Argentina, who have won just six of 52 previous Rugby Championship games.
Cheika was Australia coach from 2014-19 but he does not expect any inside knowledge to make much of a difference on Saturday.
“I know a few things about the Australian players and they know a few things about me, but it’s been a long time and there have been a lot of changes in the team,” he said at the pre-match news conference.
“At the end of the day, it’s about how the team prepares for the game. One may have some qualified information about the other, but it is something insignificant, it is not decisive.”
Argentina’s pack is back to full strength and the Wallabies have opted for a six-two split of forwards and backs on the bench, with Australia coach Dave Rennie expecting a battle up front.
“We’ve got genuine guys who can change the game on the bench as well, get us go forward and then defensively give us massive work rate,” Rennie said after naming his team on Thursday.
“We’re certainly aware of the enemy, we know what’s coming. That’s a good side that will take confidence from a series win against Scotland.”
Australia play successive matches in Argentina before returning home to face South Africa and New Zealand next month.
Argentina host Australia in San Juan on Aug. 13.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Peter Rutherford)