Andrews called on to revive Springbok ambitions

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The Independent Online

Mark Andrews, unwanted by Nick Mallett so far this year, could be the South African coach's saviour when the under-fire Springboks take on Australia in a Tri-Nations match here today.

Mark Andrews, unwanted by Nick Mallett so far this year, could be the South African coach's saviour when the under-fire Springboks take on Australia in a Tri-Nations match here today.

The 28-year-old Natal lock has answered an emergency call from the battered South Africans after a run of three defeats and he has greeted it with an infectious enthusiasm at this week's training.

Andrews has not figured in any of the Springboks' five internationals this year andadmitted he could not even watch their games on television until last week's defeat to New Zealand in Christchurch.

Regarded as one of the best second-rowers around when he was part of South Africa's 1995 World Cup-winning squad, Andrews achieved the last of his 61 Test caps in the play-off for third place against New Zealand in last year's version.

"I didn't expect to be involved in the [Springbok] side during the Tri-Nations series but you've got to make the most of your opportunities, he said."

Mallett is running out of time to hold on to his job as Springbok coach, judging by the criticism of the team's performances coming from South Africa. But the man he discarded could may provide the catalyst for a rejuvenated challenge against the world champions at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

Mallett added: "Mark has arrived here in a passionate mood and his attitude has been infectious. I have been highly impressed. His attitude is that of a player making his debut, never mind earning his 62nd cap. I am convinced that he is going to be the rallying point for the forwards."

Meanwhile, Wallaby captain John Eales is likely to take over the goal-kicking duties from the inconsistent Stirling Mortlock. The coach, Rod Macqueen, said a final decision would be made this morning but gave a strong indication that Eales would take on the problematic job.

Ben Tune and Matt Cockbain both come on to the Wallabies' bench in the only changes to the side beaten 39-35 by New Zealand, with Andrew Walker and Troy Jacques dropped.

* Carlos Spencer, a transfer target for Leicester, has opted to stay in New Zealand and fight for a recall to the All Black squad. The former Test stand-off has re-signed for Auckland for a further three years despite being strongly linked with a move to the English champions. Spencer was injured during last year's World Cup build-up in England and has since undergone a knee operation.

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