South Africa v Australia - Teams and Predictions
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND THREE: Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says his team will be looking to start a period of success in Australia after their poor record in the country over the years.
The Boks enter Sunday’s Round Three Rugby Championship match against the Wallabies on the Gold Coast without a win in Australia since 2013.
The world champions head into the match as favourites, but Kolisi knows it won’t be easy against a Wallabies team looking to right the wrongs after three straight defeats to the All Blacks.
“Tomorrow is an important game for us and we know our record [in Australia] is not good,” said Kolisi.
“Our processes are the most important thing for us. We know how we want to play and that is what we are focussing on for tomorrow [Sunday].
“We are excited. It’s a good team that Australia has, and we haven’t had a great record there so it’s something that we want to correct.
“It’s a stepping stone for us, so we want to make sure that we bring everything we can because we know what Australia has done to us in the past.”
Kolisi could not come up with a reason for South Africa’s struggles in Australia in previous years.
“I really don’t know. We have to give credit to them,” Kolisi added.
“They got a good record against everyone in Australia. They won a lot of games, especially at Suncorp and that is why they play a lot of their games there.
“But we are focussing on ourselves. Our focus is 100 percent on this game and we are giving them the respect they deserve.”
Wallabies are ‘pumped’
Meanwhile, Michael Hooper warned South Africa to prepare for “a real test” with the Wallabies “pumped” by the shock return of Quade Cooper, as the resilient captain prepares to mark a major milestone.
The Wallabies have a big task ahead with the experienced Springboks coming off two wins against Argentina and a 2-1 series victory against the British and Irish Lions.
Hooper admitted his young team must improve their discipline and ball-handling, but insisted they were quickly learning and could topple their opponents.
“You take a loss like that [against New Zealand], again, and you’ve got to be taking stuff from it,” said the 29-year-old, who will equal George Gregan’s record for most Tests as captain when he leads the side out for the 59th time.
“You can’t just be going on the same trend, we’ve got to start to show improvements.
“And I think we’re really going to test the South Africans and we’ve got to really trust our game plan and trust the guys next to us to be able to deliver on that and for longer periods of time.”
The team has been boosted by a stunning recall of flyhalf Cooper, who played the last of his 70 Tests against Italy in 2017.
His international career appeared over but he was brought into camp last month to help out and has forced his way back into the team.
“It’s very exciting, isn’t it. He’s got such a unique story and he’s such a quality player when he’s on,” said Hooper.
“He’s got a real hunger to keep learning and keep growing as a player so he is the right selection for the game. I think everyone’s pretty pumped to see him out there tomorrow.”
Players to watch
For South Africa: Duane Vermeulen will be making his first appearance in the Bok jersey this year and he will be a massive boost for the visitors. He is a colossus on open play with his ability to draw defenders with his big frame. He is also a highly physical player on defence and he will give the Boks something extra at the breakdowns as well. The Springboks will also have Faf de Klerk back as well. He will be the chief decision-maker in the backline, especially when it comes to the Springboks’ kicking game. Wing Sibusiso Nkosi gets a chance in Cheslin Kolbe’s absence and he is a hard man to contain when he is going at full speed.
For Australia: All eyes will be on flyhalf Quade Cooper. It will be his first appearance in a Wallaby jersey in four years and he will be tasked with unlocking a tough Bok defensive system. He will also have a big role to play in the kicking game, which is something everyone is expecting the Boks to win. Cooper’s halfback partner Tate McDermott will also be looking to test the Boks’ defence, especially around the rucks. In the pack, Izack Rodda comes in and he brings some much-needed muscle to the forward battle for the Wallabies.
Head to head
There could be a couple of tremors in the midfield when Damian de Allende and Samu Kerevi run into each other. De Allende has been in fine form this season and he has dominated his opponents in every match. His midfield partnership with Lukhanyo Am is probably the best in the world at the moment and Kerevi and Len Ikitau will have a point to prove against them. The Boks’ main weapon will be their pack again and they have a powerful one. For the Wallabies to have any chance of winning this game they will need to try and nullify the Boks’ strengths up front. The front row of Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a and Angus Bell will have a massive task when they come ups against Frans Malherbe, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff in the scrums. The Boks also seem to have the size advantage in the back row with Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert and Siya Kolisi up against Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton and Matt Philip. The Boks could also mix things up a bit in the second half as they enter the match with three loose forwards on the bench.
@rugby365com: South Africa by nine points.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nché, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nic White, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Date: Sunday, September 12
Venue: Robina Stadium, Gold Coast
Kick-off: 20.05 (12.05 SA time; 10.05 GMT)
Expected weather: There will be clear skies with a temperature of 16°C. There will be a strong breeze
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Matthew Carley (England)
Additional source: AAP