Matfield expects a much tougher challenge from the Wallabies

2009-08-07 00:00

VICTOR Matfield says that the All Blacks played into Springbok hands with their naive tactical approach in the Tri-Nations international at King’s Park at the weekend.

Matfield, considered the best lineout forward in world rugby, said the Wallabies will be more of a challenge tactically than the All Blacks when they face the Springboks at Newlands tomorrow.

The Springbok vice-captain told reporters that the All Blacks made the South Africans’ job easier by running from deep in their own half, but the Wallabies will rely on their kickers — Matt Giteau, Berrick Barnes, Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper — to ensure they play the territory game.

Matfield also said the Wallabies have been talking all week about taking on the Springboks physically.

“The All Blacks played into our hands with all the running they did from deep and Australia won’t make the same mistakes. They have a strong pack and Giteau [flyhalf] is a great tactical kicker and once they’re in the right position they like to build the phases.”

Matfield said that the Boks steered clear of mauling from the line-out in Durban because of the referee. But with Irishman Alain Rolland — he handled the Bloemfontein Test against the All Blacks — again in charge, Matfield said the Boks will look to return to the maul.

The Bulls captain said that the Wallaby line-out will also test the Springboks.

“Nathan Sharpe has been running their line-outs for a while now and they’ll be a tougher challenge than the All Blacks. They also stole quite a bit of ball against the All Blacks.”

Matfield said the Australians also have the pack to front up to the Springboks in the forward exchanges.

“There are a lot of perceptions out there and some teams always have their forwards blamed when they lose. But if you look back to the Super 14, then the Waratahs had the best scrum and one of the most physical packs,” Matfield said.

Matfield’s partner Bakkies Botha said that the Bok second-row pair could well play on together until the next World Cup, in New Zealand, in 2011.

Matfield agreed that 2011 was a definite long-term goal for the two.

“But winning on Saturday, and taking the Tri-Nations, is the immediate aim and then we will take it from there.”

The two will lock the Bok scrum for a world record 50th time tomorrow and Botha, the enforcer in the pack and one of the most physical players in world rugby, said he will continue to play the game as he always has.

“We’ve had many good times, and Saturday is a milestone, but it’s not about us. We just want to go out there and deliver,” said Botha.

He said that he and Matfield complemented each other perfectly.

“One of the secrets of our success is that Victor does some of the things I don’t enjoy doing as much, and vice-versa. It’s sometimes said that I clean out [at the breakdown] for two, so Victor doesn’t need to. But he always brings a great calmness to the entire team.”

Matfield said the similarities between the two extend beyond the rugby field.

“We got married the same weekend and our first children were born not far apart, so maybe we will also retire from rugby together one day.”

Matfield said that Botha did not get the credit deserves.

“You only have to watch the Springboks to see what a difference he makes. He takes on a whole pack of forwards. We know each other’s game and where the one is weak the other is strong. I think that’s what makes us a good pairing.”

Springbok kicking coach Percy Montgomery said South Africa are lucky to be able call on Matfield and 14 others from their World Cup-winning squad of 2007.

“The core is still there from the World Cup, so it’s a settled team. We’ve tweaked a few things and they’re a more mature side now.

“The forwards are giving us a great platform and from that go-forward ball we’ve been able to create quite a few tries out of nothing.

“But the kicking game is still going to be a huge factor this weekend,” he said.

The Test kicks off at 5 pm.

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