Major test for shaky Bok side

2014-09-02 00:00

THE Springboks face Australia this weekend in Perth in what is a do-or-die match for both sides.

For the Boks, a win means furthering their lead on top of the Rugby Championship log while Australia are sitting rock bottom after a draw and a loss in their opening two matches against the All Blacks.

The Boks will be wary of a star studded Australian backline but are looking at their own camp first and foremost.

After three days in Johannesburg, the Boks made the trek over the Indian Ocean to Perth this weekend, which is somewhat of a South African stronghold away from home.

They have taken stock yesterday and now continue preparing for the first Test of their Australasian tour.

“We had an opportunity to assess some of the players and we are very happy with Victor [Matfield], with that knee of his. He did all the training sessions and came through nicely,” said Springbok doctor Craig Roberts.

Unfortunately Willem Alberts has been left at home after a pinched nerve ruled him out of the tour. He was due to see a specialist yesterday. Lions captain Warren Whiteley has taken his spot in the squad.

Otherwise Roberts was reservedly happy with the trip and the rest of the players after arriving in Australia.

“It’s nice to be in Perth. It’s not a very long flight; jet lag is not an issue here as it is not a huge time change. The guys are looking good and we are looking forward to our first training session,” he said.

The medical team are considering the load of some players who have played a lot more rugby this year. Roberts said that each player is being managed individually but there are no other injury concerns.

Meanwhile, Springbok assistant coach John McFarland said that the team are moving on from a difficult performance against Argentina in Salta.

“I think every game is a fresh game and puts up a fresh challenge. Obviously we weren’t at our best in Salta but we got through and we won the game,” he said.

He believes the experience offered a unique opportunity for the younger players in the side.

“We had a lot of guys who were inexperienced and that was their first sort of passionate test at that level and obviously there were mistakes made but the great thing is that if you win, it’s always easier to correct them than if you lost,” McFarland said.

With the shift in focus to this weekend’s game, the Boks are looking closely at their own structures and set-pieces.

McFarland was not drawn into speculating what backline Australia would pick but is more concerned in studying their patterns of play and structures. He expects a big battle at the lineout and in the scrums.

Most of all, the Boks will need to be wary of some Australia’s star players who can open a game up completely.

“There are some X-factor players there, but it depends on what team Ewan [Australian coach] picks but there are some guys that are recognised as the best in the world in their positions so it will be a challenge,” he said.

Rugby Championship fixtures

Saturday, September 6:

New Zealand vs Argentina. Kick-off is at 9.35 am at McLean Park, Napier.

Australia vs South Africa. Kick-off is at 12.05 pm Patersons Stadium, Perth.

Rugby Championship log:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

SA 2 2 0 0 9 0 8

NZ 2 1 1 0 31 1 7

Arg 2 0 0 2 -9 2 2

Aus 2 0 1 1 -31 0 2.

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