Scrum guru Mario Ledesma wants to help Wallabies at Rugby World Cup and beyond

An England scrum collapses during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and at Twickenham in London on October 3. Photo: Matt Dunham/APEddie Jones open to England coaching job

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LONDON: He’s gone from the intern to the master and scrum guru Mario Ledesma pushed the knife deeper into England’s broken hearts by claiming loosehead prop Joe Marler should have been penalised more often in the hosts’ embarrassing World Cup exit.

And the bad news for England and Wallabies’ rivals is that the man who has transformed ‘s set piece declared he wants to stay on Michael Cheika’s coaching staff and build an n scrum reputation.

Ledesma has helped turn the Wallabies scrum from an Achilles heel to a potential weapon in less than a year, going from NSW Waratahs’ “video intern” to Test magician.

The former Argentina hooker insists the Wallabies scrum has to get better in its clash against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEDT).

Wales will draw confidence from the fact they marched all over the Wallabies last year and were awarded a penalty try at scrum time.

Ledesma’s results in a short period with the Wallabies have been brilliant, but he has his eyes on a longer stint after originally arriving in with a tourist visa.

Teams from around the world will come knocking on his door, but the intern-turn-master says his job with the Wallabies is unfinished.

​”Yes, definitely [I’d like to stay coaching in ]. Since I came here, things have been developing really naturally,” Ledesma said.

“I came to with a tourist visa and just helping, being the video intern at the Waratahs. Then things started building up. I know ‘Cheiks’ … my wife can worry because I never sign things.

“But I trust ‘Cheiks’ 100 per cent … I got a third visa and he said maybe I can help with the Wallabies. I’ve been going from there, I’m not worried. I’m enjoying myself, this is the place I want to be right now. I would definitely [stick around for the England series next year].”

Ledesma grinned as he spoke of the Wallabies’ strong scrum performance against England.

He was reluctant to talk about the challenge and any technical deficiencies in the Welsh pack, but rubbed salt into England’s wounds by saying Marler should have been punished even more than he was.

Referee Romain Poite pinned Marler for his illegal technique of angling in and he was one penalty away from being sent to the sin bin before England’s coaches dragged him from the field.

“Technically I wasn’t really happy with the way we were scrummaging [against England], there are a lot of things to work on and the good thing is that the guys know that,” Ledesma said.

“I thought the loosehead [Marler] was doing the same in all the scrums but he wasn’t penalised.

“I’m happy he [referee Romain Poite] penalised him the times he did, but if he penalises him once he should penalise him every time because he always did the same thing.

“He scrummed like that against Fiji, Wales and us, you can’t change that in a week so we knew it was coming.”

The Wallabies are preparing for a new set-piece battle against Wales this weekend and hope their scrum performance will start earning back respect among referees and opposition teams.

Twelve months ago the Welsh scrum demolished and won a penalty try in Cardiff.

But the Wallabies showed they are a completely different scrum unit when they forced five penalties and conceded just two against England.

“We’ve got to be smart,” Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said.

“We are fully aware of the threat pose, but also in the knowledge we actually were awarded a penalty try against them last autumn, so we’ve got to take confidence from that.

“Obviously they are benefiting from the experience of Mario Ledesma … so there’s a certain Argentine flavour to their scrum.

“The challenge is there, so fortunately, we have a whole week to focus on those perceived weaknesses.”

​n rugby is traditionally known for its back-line stars and try-scoring prowess.

But Ledesma has been soaking up the attention on the scrum and rebuilding pride in the set piece.

“It’s all about self-belief and getting better every day … the guys concentrate on that, not the England or Wales scrum,” Ledesma said.

“There are a lot of things we can do better. It’s always harder to reproduce something like that [against England]. But there are a lot of areas we have to improve. They get what we’re trying to do and they’re not doing it, they realise they could have done better.

“What’s strong is respecting our philosophy, our mind set, our intent and technique.”

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