Rugby Union 2 years ago

Australia has huge scrum future: Ledesma

  • Australia has huge scrum future: Ledesma

    Australia's forwards coach Mario Ledesma takes part in a team training session in Teddington, south west London, on October 21, 2015, during the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia has the potential to in the next decade become a scrummaging heavyweight which adores the set piece, according scrum guru Mario Ledesma.

Excited by a bright crop of young props already impressing at international level, the Argentina legend sees an enormous future for the typically overlooked component of Australian rugby.

But it needs to start in school, with talent identification of teenagers the key to laying the foundations for a granite-solid scrum for years to come.

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"In many ways Australia has a lot of Polynesian kids (and) they're built for scrums," Ledesma said in Paris ahead of Saturday's Test against France.

The problem, according to Ledesma, is that many of the talented teenagers running around in high school are hard-running backrowers.

And they only turn their attention to the scrum, or transfer their skills to the front row, after leaving school and entering the club and Super Rugby systems.

"If we turn them into front-rowers when they're 15, they will come to Super Rugby franchises developed and knowing what they're doing," he said.

"It's our responsibility to do that, the franchises and the state, but I think in the next ten years we'll see really really good front rowers coming from Australia which will be really exciting."

As the scrum guru, who was coaxed to join Australian rugby by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika two years ago, excitedly points out - the change is already happening.

"I think that in Australia they weren't working enough," Ledesma said.

"I think it was a lack of work and because of that the importance given to scrum wasn't really there and the players felt that way so no one was proud of their scrum.

"Nobody invested time on working on the scrum or developing players to have a good scrum.

"The forwards weren't really proud of what they were doing because they were trying to get as quick as possible from there.

"Everyone wanted to change and they started working really hard, not only the front-rowers but second-rowers and back-rowers, and the commitment to the scrum really changed."

A look at Australia's young front-row stocks gives hope that the mindset has changed.

The 25-year-old Scott Sio has cemented his spot at loosehead prop in the Wallabies' front row, while rookie pair Allan Alaalatoa and Tom Robertson have made enormous progress in 2016.

So too Queensland monster Taniela Tupou - better known as the Tongan Thor - who is on the Spring Tour as a development player and will become eligible to play for the Wallabies next year.

Ledesma also has high hopes for Melbourne Rebels tighthead Tyrel Lomax, the son of former Canberra Raiders rugby league hardman John Lomax.

"Not only are (Alaalatoa and Robertson) really good players (now), I think that they'll be one of the best in a couple of years time," Ledesma said.

"When you see two tighthead props at 21, 22 that's quite surprising.

"It doesn't exist in World Rugby and they've been performing week in, week out and then outside of the field, they're great guys, really humble, really eager to know and to develop."

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