Sept 23 (Reuters) – Argentina coach Mario Ledesma is confident his COVID-19-ravaged squad will recover in time for the southern hemisphere tournament in Australia. Rugby Championship, although they may be rusty in their return to international rugby.
Over the past few weeks, as the Cougars gathered for the Nov. 7-December game, more than a dozen players and staffers, including Ledesma, have tested positive for the coronavirus. 12 games.
However, Ledesma said almost all were asymptomatic and the existing testing regime meant he was confident they would travel to Australia next month.
“We do a test every 72 hours,” Ledesma told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We will be tested 72 hours before departure and once in Australia we will be tested again.
“The odds of getting a positive result are very slim. I’m confident enough to say we won’t get any positive cases.”
The former Cougars player added that while his squad was able to train, many had not played since March, which would affect their performances in the tournament, which includes games against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia .
“We’re definitely going to rust,” he said.
“When you look at Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby New Zealand, there’s a big change in the level at the start of the game and at the end of the game.
“We’re going to go through this transition throughout Rugby Championship. We can guarantee we’ll be fit and mentally prepared. Rugby is coming.”
Ledesma also said the tournament would offer players some respite after being locked down for four months as the Argentine government grapples with the outbreak.
“They’ve been trying to get through the lockdown,” Ledesma said. “We need our players to play football, not only for Argentine rugby, but for themselves.
“The rugby championship will be good for their mental health.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Sam Holmes