Rugby-New coach Cheika looks to tone down over eager Argentine team

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - England v Australia - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 19, 2019 Australia head coach Michael Cheika during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

(Reuters) - New Argentina coach Michael Cheika says he has had to try and reign in his new charges this week and tone down the ferocity of their training amid the excitement of a first home test in almost three years.

Argentina face Scotland at San Salvador de Jujuy on Saturday in the first of a three test series in their first home international since meeting South Africa in Salta in August 2019, more than 1,000 days ago.

"Everyone has been so excited to be playing back in Argentina that they want to train so hard that I have had to try and hold them back a little bit," Cheika told a news conference on Thursday.

"But we know that we're building for something towards the World Cup next year. We're starting what we think will be take us to the top level.

"We know that on Saturday, we won't be perfect. There's many things to work on and many new things, but I've seen very good intent. They want to learn and they want to play rugby the way we are hoping to play."

Cheika, former coach of his native Australia, had been assistant coach with the Pumas last year under Mario Ledesma and was appointed coach when Ledesma quit in February.

But he has not had much time with the team and said picking his first side had been difficult.

"It was a tough task, there were a lot of players who have put up their hands. It was about trying to select thinking about our focus for the game," Cheika added.

"And our focus for the game that hasn't changed since the first time we spoke – scrum, line out, maul, ruck, defence. That's where we start to build and then we can evolve our game from here.

"We are looking to make layers and there is good competition in the chain. And this competition will be rewarded with people getting opportunities over the next weeks to get their chance on the field," he said.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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