Wallabies ready to blitz Boks
INTERVIEW: Captain James Slipper said on Friday that it was crucial for the Wallabies to put South Africa under pressure from the off if they want to maintain their nine-year unbeaten streak against the world champions on home soil.
Getting off to a storming start has not been Australia’s strong suit this season – first in a three-Test series against England then two encounters with Argentina.
They constantly found themselves chasing the game this year.
It is an issue 119-Test veteran Slipper wants fixed at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday, where the Wallabies are defending an unbeaten home record against the Springboks spanning seven Tests dating back to 2013.
“Preparation is everything in a Test match and I think out of all five Tests we’ve played so far this year we’ve lost the first 25 minutes in each game,” said the prop, who is again standing in for regular captain Michael Hooper, who is on mental-health leave.
“So [the start of the game] has definitely been spoken about.
“Hopefully we can put the Springboks under a bit of heat early.
“It comes down to creating opportunities and taking them.
“We’ve created a lot but probably haven’t had the polish to take them or haven’t taken the points on offer, so for us at training there’s been a big emphasis on taking those opportunities,” he added.
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Australia are looking to bounce back from a 17-48 Rugby Championship loss to Argentina a fortnight ago, a week after beating them 41-26.
Those games were marred by not only Hooper pulling out on the eve of the first Test, but several top players missing with injuries or for personal reasons.
The likes of experienced prop Allan Alaalatoa and hooker Folau Fainga’a return to start, while dangerous wing Andrew Kellaway is back on the bench.
Slipper said the Argentina tour was “one of the toughest I’ve been on”, but the squad was confident of getting back to winning ways.
“We had plenty of blokes drop out of the team after it was named [for Argentina].
“There was a fair bit of adversity there but from adversity, you grow stronger and that’s where I’ve pushed the team,” he told reporters.
“We’ve worked hard and we go into the game with confidence, that’s all I can ask from the boys to make sure we do the jersey proud.”
Slipper said the Springboks were always a handful, particularly up front.
“They’re obviously the defending world champions, World Cup winners, and they’ve knocked off the All Blacks in the last couple of weeks,” Slipper said.
“They’re big boys, big men and one thing I do know is it’s going to be a physical game so we’ve got to win the battle up front.
“We know South Africa are going to come with a big set-piece focus, trying to really bash us up in the middle and kick a lot so it’s about nullifying their kicking game.”
Slipper said he’d spoken to Hooper and there was still no timeline for his return to rugby.
“It’s important that he takes the time that’s needed for him to be able to come back and he’s got the full support of the playing group,” he said of the veteran flank.
Source: AFP & AAP