Will Boks outmuscle beefed up Wallabies?

2013-09-22 10:00

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James Horwill’s return?could pose a serious threat to the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku.

The return of Australian skipper James Horwill is a clear sign that the Wallabies intend to fight fire with fire in the Springboks’ must-win test at Newlands on Saturday (kickoff is at 5pm).

The Wallabies have been outmuscled in forward play this season and it appears coach Ewen McKenzie is set to change tack from Australia’s preferred running game to confront the Boks upfront.

McKenzie is well aware that the Boks will be taking risks to score four tries and earn a bonus point in an effort to maintain their challenge in The Rugby Championship by staying in touch with the log-leading All Blacks, and he is going to be calling up the heavy artillery.

Being outsmuscled in the collisions has been the tune of Australian international rugby this season, which is where their captain, the 2m, 117kg Horwill comes in.

The Wallabies may have lost test matches to the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks while he was there, but there was no denying his physical presence.

They were horribly exposed in Brisbane and for them to get past the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday, they’ll need more than Horwill’s grunt.

The Boks have to win and hope the Pumas upset the All Blacks, or at least pin them back to a win without the additional bonus point, in Rosario, Argentina, on Sunday morning (SA time).

Anything other than that will reduce the Springboks?vs?All Blacks Ellis Park clash to nothing more than a dud.

As for the Wallabies, Horwill’s return could not be more timely, considering how they were rag-dolled in Brisbane.

They hardly got through the advantage line – with the Springboks punching gaping holes, which opened up the space out wide for the South African outside backs to exploit.

His absence was telling as Australia hardly lose to South Africa when he’s around.

The last time Australia lost to South Africa when he was in the starting 15 was in their 25-32 defeat in Perth in 2009.

That makes for a talismanic statistic as those games in which the Boks were defeated featured Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw, both of whom are noted bruisers.

Horwill is their go-to man when they meet the Bok monsters.

This is where Eben Etzebeth comes in as the anointed replacement for the Bulls stalwarts.

Etzebeth and Horwill have met twice in Super Rugby in their Stormers and Reds guises, with “Yster” twice trumping the Wallaby hardman.

The 26-19 defeat in Perth last year was Etzebeth’s first encounter with the Wallabies, but there was no Horwill, who sat out due to injury.

Should Horwill be included in the starting 15 for their clash on Saturday, it will be the first time the two will face off against each other in their national teams.

There will be other heavies in the packs, with Australia calling up the bulky Sitaleki Timani and Benn Robinson, who will beef up the wobbly Wallabies.

But playing Timani along with Horwill will rob McKenzie’s men of precious mobility afforded by Rob Simmons or Kane Douglas.

To beat the Boks, they will first have to nullify the physical threat posed by Etzebeth et al.

Collision domination will go a long way in determining the winner of the Cape Town test, and the Horwill vs Etzebeth battle will be the marker of a ferocious battle in this clash.

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