RugbyU: Confident Springboks put Wallabies to the test
"Playing in your home town in front of your club team fans and Wallaby fans, it's a very special occasion," Wallabies and Force lock Adam Coleman said. Photograph: (AFP)
Australia's Wallabies face an acid test against the rejuvenated Springboks in the Rugby Championship on Saturday to gauge whether they are on the rise after taking the All Blacks to the limit.
The world champion New Zealanders had to pull out all the stops to overcome Australia 35-29 with a try two minutes from time in Dunedin a fortnight ago.
The Wallabies have already lost the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup series, but take on the regenerated Springboks in Perth, with the South Africans yet to lose in 2017.
Fly-half Bernard Foley said every member of the Wallabies' squad knew the importance of not undoing all their good work from Dunedin against the South Africans.
"I think that's probably been a hurdle of Wallaby teams in the past, is not being able to be consistent," Foley said.
"We've definitely spoken (about) that and challenged every player to go up a level from where he was in Dunedin."
While the Springboks have vanquished Argentina and France over five internationals this year they have not beaten the Wallabies in Australia since their 38-12 romp in Brisbane in 2013.
It has been a torrid year for Australia, winning only two of their five internationals and coming off a miserable Super Rugby season climaxed by the contentious axing of Perth-based Western Force from next year's competition.
There have been reports that the Perth rugby public may boycott the Test on Saturday as a way of protesting against the Australian Rugby Union's vexed decision to cull the Force, or wear their blue Western Force jerseys instead of the Wallabies' gold.
"Playing in your home town in front of your club team fans and Wallaby fans, it's a very special occasion," Wallabies and Force lock Adam Coleman said.
"The fans in Western Australia are amazing. I'm sure they'll turn out in numbers."
- Desire to get better -
The Wallabies are looking to stifle the Springboks playmaker and fly-half Elton Jantjies, who has been impressive in his team's two wins over Argentina so far in the Rugby Championship.
"For us shutting him down is not allowing him momentum, doing the job up front, pushing him backwards and that probably takes down his time and space," Foley said of his opposite number.
Scrum-half Ross Cronje has overcome an ankle injury and partners Jantjies with Francois Hougaard dropping back to the reserves.
In the only other change to the starting team, Pieter-Steph du Toit comes in at lock for Franco Mostert.
"Even though we travelled to three continents in 10 days, this group has the desire to get better, and learn from previous experiences," coach Allister Coetzee said Thursday.
"The Wallabies are a well-coached side, with great deception on attack. Their playmakers and strike runners complement each other very well and we will have to be very sharp on defence.
"If you look at their performances against New Zealand, you will see how well they have functioned in scoring nine tries and 63 points in two matches."
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika made four changes to his starting XV with Tatafu Polota-Nau at hooker, Sekope Kepu at tight-head prop, Adam Coleman at lock and Reece Hodge on the left wing.
The Australians are without their 122-Test hooker Stephen Moore, back at home awaiting the birth of his third child, while winger Dane Haylett-Petty is out for three months following biceps surgery.
Australia - Israel Folau; Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan; Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Jack Dempsey, Nick Phipps, Samu Kerevi, Curtis Rona
South Africa - Andries Coetzee; Raymond Rhule, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Uzair Cassiem, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi; Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth (capt); Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, Jean-Luc du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZL)