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By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pumas coach Mario Ledesma was unapologetic for the tears he and his team shed after their maiden victory over the All Blacks last weekend and said that emotion was an integral part of the makeup of the Argentina team.
The Pumas stunned the rugby world with their 25-15 victory over New Zealand in their first test for more than a year last week in Sydney and there was a huge outpouring of emotion on the pitch afterwards.
That, along with tears shed by Dustin Johnson after winning golf's Masters and Lewis Hamilton after securing the Formula One world title at the weekend, irked one veteran commentator in New Zealand, who called on modern sportsmen to "harden up".
"Emotions are sometimes difficult to control, especially after everything we have been through," Ledesma said on Thursday after naming his team for Saturday's Tri-Nations test against Australia in Newcastle.
"I'm sorry if in any way he was angry about it, but I think emotions are a good thing - he should try it."
Ledesma, a former hooker who proved his physical toughness in 84 tests for the Pumas, said after last weekend's match that his players had been through "hell" in the months leading up to the All Blacks match.
They trained as best they could at home through the lockdown, then were forced to abandon one training camp in Argentina after a string of COVID-19 cases before requiring two weeks of quarantine on their arrival in Australia.
Matters were not helped by the economic crisis in Argentina nor by the uncertainty of the playing future for many in the squad after the Jaguares Super Rugby team was effectively shut down.
While that contributed to the way the Pumas celebrated their victory last week, Ledesma said emotion was also part of what made Argentinian rugby different.
"I think we are like we are and we don't want to change, I think emotions and passions are a very good thing," he added.
"I thought there was a lot of control and discipline too in the way we played, and that's the way we should be playing."
Ledesma has kept faith with the players who beat the All Blacks for Saturday's match against the Wallabies at Hunter Stadium, and restricted himself to bringing hooker Santiago Socino, loose forward Facundo Isa and outside back Emiliano Boffelli onto the bench.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Stephen Coates)