Jaguares coach Mario Ledesma unfazed by Lions threat

Argentina's Jaguares head coach Mario Ledesma gestures before their Super Rugby match against South Africa's Stormers, at Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires, on June 30, 2018.
Argentina's Jaguares head coach Mario Ledesma gestures before their Super Rugby match against South Africa's Stormers, at Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires, on June 30, 2018.
Image: ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

Jaguares coach Mario Ledesma is far from fazed by the threat the Lions pose despite his team's inability to win in South Africa.

The Jaguares may have blanked all the South African teams in Buenos Aires but they've struggled to win in South Africa.

Their rut was extended by Saturday's 20-10 loss to the Sharks while they relinquished a 19-0 lead to lose 43-34 to the Bulls last week.

The Lions welcome the Jaguares to Ellis Park in the Super Rugby quarterfinals on Saturday and while Ledesma is not quite in awe of the hosts‚ he respects their powerful scrum and maul.

"We don't have a good record against South African teams in South Africa and we haven't won here this year‚" he said.

"In the past couple of years‚ we've beaten the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings but not the Lions.

"They are used to the play-off stages.

"They've been the best South Africa team but we've got nothing to lose. It's our first time here and they're favourites but we'll go all guns blazing and see what happens.

"They may not be as solid as they have been in the last two years but their set-pieces are scary.

"They still have their strong points and that's challenging for us considering how the game went here."

The Jaguares were always assured of a play-off spot but Ledesma said they didn't think about it much.

Going into Saturday's game‚ the lowest the Jaguares could finish was eighth. That explained their decision to play with a much-changed side.

Ledesma said altitude tripped them up in Pretoria but he needed to cotton-wool his star players.

"We didn't know that we'd qualified and we didn't allow them to watch the games even though some may have watched on their phones‚" he said.

"They didn't know the Lions were leading by 20 points.

"Our starting players were there even though they were on the bench.

"It was going to be a risk playing our main players knowing that they have a couple of knocks and they've playing for the better part of the season‚" Ledesma said.

"We had a couple of opportunities to cash in but we had so many young and inexperienced players. For some‚ this was their first year of Super Rugby and we had some new combinations."

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