De Villiers has great chance to kick habit

Springbok coach can ditch safety-first approach in today's Tri-Nations clash with Wallabies

Despite the arrogant posturing of their coach this week on the subject, one thing is for sure – South Africa, although clearly the No 1 team in the world at this time, are showing no sort of leadership in how to play the game.

Peter de Villiers, the Springbok coach, has got his team playing a kicking obsessed, safety first game. Yet this week he accused New Zealand and Australia of copying world rugby's new "leaders".

"We always said when we took over this job that South African sport should be leaders and not followers anymore," De Villiers added. "It took us a while from isolation up to now to come to grips that we could be leaders. For other big countries in rugby like Australia and New Zealand to try to follow us now speaks volumes of the fact we can dictate the terms of how rugby can be played."

To suggest that the Springboks are showing the world how to play the game, leaves a sick feeling in the stomach. If they are, then the sport is in serious trouble. Even De Villiers, in his occasional, more lucid moments, says all the South Africans have done is adapt back to the old laws. There is some truth in that for the game is once again riddled with penalty goals.

But if the Springboks wish to scramble up on to that moral high ground, they need to start doing something other than just kicking the ball all the time. They have a great chance this weekend – the Australians, whom they meet in Perth this morning UK time, are struggling badly and seriously below strength.

Robbie Deans' team have lost all three games so far in the tournament, two to New Zealand and one to the Springboks in Cape Town where they could not cope with the South Africans' forward power. It may well be a similar story this time although the unpredictable Wallabies should not be ruled out. They still have players who could rise to the occasion.

De Villiers has brought Ruan Pienaar in at full-back for François Steyn and restored Schalk Burger to the bench after his suspension for eye-gouging. Scrum-half Fourie du Preez will earn his 50th Test cap for South Africa today.

The Wallabies are weakened by the loss of lock Nathan Sharpe, plus both centres, captain Stirling Mortlock and Berrick Barnes, all through injury. Ryan Cross, at centre, Mark Chisholm, at lock and Peter Hynes on the left wing are the new men but the key will be whether the Australian pack can live with the power of the Springbok forwards. It seems doubtful.

Flanker Rocky Elsom has overcome an ankle injury to be close enough to 100 per cent fit to play and feels the Wallabies are capable of downing the unbeaten Springboks.

"There's always a lot of pressure because you are playing the best sides over and over. If you don't perform not only could you lose, but it could get embarrassing too," Elsom said.

"There's always an element of pressure to perform and that doesn't change because we didn't get the win last week. It's not necessarily about pride, we want to beat South Africa because we think we can and they are the best team in the world at the moment. A key thing for us is to back our options. Our execution during the week has been good, it was a bit of a step up last week again [against the All Blacks] and what we are doing is fine, it's just about getting out there and doing it on the field."

Australia: J O'Connor; L Turner, R Cross, A Ashley-Cooper, P Hynes; M Giteau, L Burgess; B Robinson, S Moore, B Alexander, J Horwill, M Chisholm, R Elsom, G Smith (capt), R Brown.

South Africa: R Pienaar; JP Pietersen, J Fourie, J de Villiers, B Habana; M Steyn, F du Preez; T Mtawarira, B Du Plessis, J Smit (capt), B Botha, V Matfield, H Brussow, J Smith, P Spies.

Referee: B Lawrence (New Zealand).

Swine flu halts Castres games

Two France Top 14 championship matches have been postponed after six players and a physiotherapist of the Castres club were diagnosed with swine flu, the French rugby league (LNR) said yesterday. "The board of the LNR decided during an emergency meeting to postpone the next two games in which the Castres Olympique club were due to play," the League said in a statement.

"Another case has also been diagnosed in the team who played against Castres last weekend," the league added.

Castres defeated Bourgoin 29-9 last Saturday. They were scheduled to host Montauban today and travel to Albi on Wednesday. Three Stade Français players were diagnosed with the virus earlier this week and while their match will go on the three players have been advised to stay at home for five to seven days. Another unidentified player, with Bayonne, was also diagnosed this week.

An LNR teleconference including all the doctors attached to the League's 14 teams was due to be held last night, said LNR general manager Arnaud Dagorne. "For reasons of public health and to try and limit the spread of the virus Castres team and staff members should stay away from each other at least until Wednesday," Dagorne said. "This measure has been taken to try and protect the players and their families."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London