Rugby-Coach Cheika seeks more focus from Argentina


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/Files

(Reuters) - New Argentina coach Michael Cheika says his side need to worry less about the score and focus more on playing if they are to replicate Saturday’s success over Scotland and go on to win three-test series.

Argentina beat Scotland 26-18 in San Salvador de Jujuy in the first test but Cheika says they need to change aspects of their play to win the next two -- in Salta on Saturday and in Santiago del Estero on July 16.

"We must improve discipline and stop looking at the scoreboard and focus on playing. At times we stopped taking risks and I want the team to be encouraged to play, without thinking so much about the result," Cheika told reporters after victory in his first match in charge of Los Pumas.

"As I said before the game, we have to focus on long term work but also improve in the short term. I think we played a good game and the foundations were good. The scrum responded and the maul also went well for us, against a team like Scotland that is very strong in that facet of the game.”

But Cheika, the former Australia coach, predicted the series would get tougher.

"It is more difficult to be able to prepare a match when you face the same rival again, because there is very little they don’t know about you."

Argentina have concerns about the fitness of the halfback pair of Tomas Cubelli, who was injured on the eve of the first test, and Nicolas Sanchez, who went off early against Scotland with a muscle tear.

Centre Mattias Orlando, who has had previous concussion injuries, was also taken off after a blow to the head.

Saturday’s test marked the first home game in almost three years for Argentina, restricted from hosting because of the COVID-19 pandemic and strict quarantine regulations.

"We are very happy to have been able to play again in Argentina and do so with a win," said skipper Julian Montoya.

"This is a first step and we have to gain confidence from it. A lot of things went as we had trained them, but we also know where we have to improve," he added.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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