Argentina is confident they will recover from numerous positive Covid-19 infections among the squad in time to take part in the Rugby Championship in Australia, although they admit they’ll likely be “rusty”.
More than a dozen players and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks as the Pumas attempted to assemble for a training camp with eyes on the November competition.
Head coach Mario Ledesma, who tested positive for Covid-19 himself, said protocols have been put in place to ensure they can travel to Australia next month.
"We're testing every 72 hours," Ledesma told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We'll be tested 72 hours before leaving, and once we get into Australia we'll be tested again.
"The margin of getting a positive is really minor. I'll be confident enough to say that we won't get any positive cases."
Ledesma conceded there’s another big challenge facing his Pumas.
Many members of the squad haven’t played a game since March while other Rugby Championship nations, namely New Zealand and Australia, have managed to run entire domestic competitions in that time.
As a result, Ledesma expects his side to be slow out of the gate.
"We'll definitely be rusty," he said.
"When you look at Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa, the level from the beginning of the comps and the end of the comps changed quite a bit.
"We'll be going through that transition throughout the Rugby Championship. We can assure that we'll be fit and mentally ready. The rugby will come."
Ledesma also said the Championship would provide some respite for the players, who have been locked down for four months while the Argentine government grapples with the pandemic.
"They've been struggling through the lockdown," Ledesma said. "We need our guys to play footy, not only for the rugby in Argentina but for themselves.
"The Rugby Championship will be good for their mental health."