Skipper Adriaan Strauss said yesterday the Springboks had plans to make sure Australia’s Michael Hooper and David Pocock don’t dominate the breakdown in today’s Rugby Championship Test.
Strauss said South Africa would have to negate Australia’s renowned “Pooper” back-row combination, with the breakdown likely to be one of the key areas of the game.
“We’re going to need to front up there (in the breakdown),” Strauss told reporters.
“There’s a lot of tactics to get those guys out of the game.
“We just need to be sharp and we need to be aware of where they are on the pitch and what positions they’re placing themselves on the field to make those steals and to slow the ball down.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has resisted calls for a back-row makeover by keeping both natural open-side flankers in his starting team and calling up lineout jumper Dean Mumm at blindside flanker.
Strauss said there wasn’t a single way of stopping Hooper and Pocock’s ball-pilfering, which made its first appearance in last year’s corresponding Test in Brisbane.
“There’s a lot of ways to try and keep them out of the game but they’re also very clever players and they find ways to sneak into the rucks,” he said.
The Springboks traditionally struggle to win in Australia with just two victories in their last 12 Tests in the country. They have only won once in Brisbane (2013) since 1993.
But last year’s Brisbane Test was decided by a Tevita Kuridrani try after the full-time siren and Strauss said he expected another close tussle this weekend.
“I think it’s always a massive game against Australia and we haven’t got a great record here in Brisbane,” he said.
“But fortunately on the day history won’t make any difference to the score line.”
South Africa have retained their back row of Warren Whiteley, Francois Louw and Oupa Mohoje who played together in the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship against Argentina.
“We’re definitely not playing the type of rugby we want to play yet but we know where we’re heading,” said Strauss.
“It’s a growing process but we’ve been trying to speed that up.” — AFP