The Springboks will be within touching distance of regaining the Tri-Nations trophy if they beat Australia in Perth on Saturday, Aussie coach Robbie Deans has admitted.
Deans, aware of the size of the challenge the ‘Boks offer this weekend, announced a significantly beefed up Wallabies team to confront the world champions at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night.
Deans recalled the experienced Lote Tuqiri, Wycliff Palu and Nathan Sharpe to his starting line-up but then admitted the Wallabies are up against it. Asked if fatigue might be a problem for the Springboks after almost three weeks on the road, Deans rejected the idea flatly, saying “I don’t think fatigue will be a factor at all for them.
“South Africa are definitely better for the fact that they have been battle hardened over the last two weeks. There is no doubt about that.
“They are getting on a flight after this match and heading home and they have a huge opportunity, if they can get up in this encounter. If they do that, they will really place themselves in a magnificent position to close the deal (on this year’s Tri-Nations).”
Deans also admitted that he regards Peter de Villiers’ side as tougher to beat because they have embraced a wider game plan than the tighter, more rigidly structured approach under Jake White. The Wallaby coach said “They are now a little bit more prepared to use the width of the ground, and to be fair that makes them harder because you can’t presume. It makes them a more challenging opponent to defend against.
“As long as it doesn’t sting us, I warm to their philosophy to expand their game. For sure, it makes them a more formidable opponent.”
Deans said that World Cups now, with the intensity of that competition, inhibit an attacking mentality. But Tri-Nations were different. “In this, you have a points table that incorporates bonus points and you also get a second dig. At the World Cup it is do or die.
“The physicality is still there, though. You only have to look at the previous two Tests in this Tri Nations, New Zealand v South Africa to recognise that the physicality has not diminished at all.
“South Africa have played in two very fast Test matches which were played in that way from start to finish. So they will hit the ground running. It is important for us to spend a little longer contemplating what we are about to enter. This will be a significant step up for us from the Tests against Ireland and France.”
Tuqiri (knee), Palu (shoulder) and Sharpe (groin) have all recovered fitness and are brought straight back to counter what Deans sees as a highly experienced Springboks side. “This is a very good, mature Springbok side” he said. “They not only have achievements behind them but they are still stacking them up. They have a lot of experience and they are still in their prime and still hungry for it. They want to stack away silverware so that’s a pretty powerful combination.
“We needed to be absolutely certain that our injured players were right, because the South Africans are going to be the most physical opponent we have played so far. By allowing them all time we’re happy that they are at the level, both physically and mentally, that they need to be to play.”
Australian team: A. Ashley-Cooper; P. Hynes, S. Mortlock (Capt.), B. Barnes, L. Tuqiri; M. Giteau, L. Burgess; B. Robinson, S. Moore, A. Baxter, J. Horwill, N. Sharpe, R. Elsom, G. Smith, W. Palu.
Reserves: T. Polota-Nau, M. Dunning, H. McMeniman, P. Waugh, S. Cordingley, R. Cross, D. Mitchell.Reuse content