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."

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
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

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015