Boks take on ‘most dangerous backs in world rugby’

2013-09-03 00:00

THE Wallabies have the most dangerous backs in world rugby, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said in Brisbane yesterday, and the inclusion of Quade Cooper at flyhalf would add to their potency.

Meyer was addressing his first media conference since arriving in Brisbane ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship international and he immediately talked up the quality of the Wallaby team.

The Wallabies were beaten at home and away by the All Blacks, and the Springboks went from the sublime to the ridiculous with contrasting victories over the Pumas. Both teams are expected to make changes for the Test.

Meyer will look to boost the physicality of his pack by including hooker Bismarck du Plessis and lock Flip van der Merwe for Adriaan Strauss and Juandré Kruger at forward. He is also certain to make changes to his defensively vulnerable back three with either Pat Lambie or Zane Kirchner taking over from Willie le Roux at fullback. Le Roux is expected to switch to wing in place of Bjorn Basson.

“There will be a few changes, mostly due to rotational, and also we want to have the most fresh as possible team on the field,” Meyer said.

“We’ve travelled a lot and we’re going to play three away matches on the trot, so it’s important to have fresh guys.”

Cooper played off the bench in both Tests against the All Blacks, but it is widely accepted that Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie will start with the talented if unpredictable flyhalf ahead of Matt Toomua. Cooper would then rejoin Reds’ scrumhalf Will Genia at the hub of the action.

McKenzie said yesterday that Cooper’s remarkable record against the Springboks — he has only once played in a losing side against the South Africans in seven Tests — would count in his favour. “He’s able to keep them guessing,” McKenzie said when the Wallabies arrived in Brisbane,

“He’s not always successful but Australia have a good strike rate against South Africa with him at flyhalf.

“We’re playing a different team in a different context, so different things will come into play, so we’re definitely looking at that.

“There’s the potential for change. There’s a clash of rugby approaches. They [the Boks] love having set pieces and they structure most of their game from that. That’s what they want. The question is whether you give it to them.”

Meyer says the Boks are preparing to face Cooper.

“I think it’s just a matter of time when he comes back, just hopefully not against the Boks,” Meyer said. “A player like that I would love to have in my team. I just believe if Cooper plays well and Genia plays well, then the Wallabies play well.”

The Springboks have been joined by the five Springboks who saw action for their French clubs at the weekend.

“They are all fresh and excited to be with us,” said Meyer.

Team doctor said that all the players would be available when the team is named tomorrow.

Meyer said he was not reading anything into the historical fact that the Boks have lost all seven Tests they have played at Suncorp Stadium while he is taking little comfort from the Wallabies’ poor run in Tests this year.

“They have been up against world-class teams in the British Lions and then the All Blacks.

“Our poor record here just adds to our excitement and motivation. You can’t focus on the negative. I believe in the power of positive thought and, without wanting to sound arrogant, this is another tough Test on another field.”

He said that he had “huge respect for the Wallabies and Ewen McKenzie”.

“It will be a massive challenge, but that’s why we play the game.”

He said the Wallabies had highly skilful players, both among the backs and the forwards.

“I must choose my words carefully but, if they get quick ball with Cooper at flyhalf, they have the most dangerous backs in the world.”

He said the Springboks would have to deny the Wallabies time and space while also absorbing the pressure.

He said that the Springboks had “stepped up” since last season.

“But we are not there yet. We cannot rely on simply being psyched-up for a Test. Those days are gone. We will also have to be clinical.”

The Test kicks off at 12.05 pm (SA time) on Saturday and Irishman Alain Rolland will be the referee.

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