Moore withdrawal will not harm Wallabies
Australia hooker Stephen Moore’s withdrawal from Saturday’s test against South Africa in Perth after pulling up with a hamstring problem at training on Thursday should not prove to be too much of a disruption prop Ben Alexander said.
Moore complained about a tight hamstring after training and was sent for a scan which revealed that the player, who would have become Australia’s most capped hooker if he taken to the field against the Springboks, was suffering with a low grade strain in his right hamstring. Tighthead prop Alexander said that Tatafu Polota-Nau would be a fine replacement.
“We have been practicing with a lot of different combinations. We are always changing props and hookers in training so it shouldn’t cause any problems if Tatafu gets a chance,” Alexander told reporters in Perth.
Australia have a fine recent record against South Africa having won the last four matches between the two teams but Alexander believes that the recent changing of the guard in Springbok rugby, with the appointment of Heyneke Meyer, means that previous results were irrelevant before Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Paterson’s Stadium.
“It is a completely different Springbok side. There is a new coach and a lot of new players so it is completely fresh. It is the start of a new era and nothing in the past counts for anything.
“When they had such a consistent team for so long you knew what they would bring. With guys like John Smit and Victor Matfield you knew what you were in for and what you had to do to try and stop them. But this younger side with a new coach will do some things differently.
They haven’t changed a lot but there are still some changes in how they attack and defend so it should make for a great game,” said Alexander.
South Africa have a relatively inexperienced squad at the moment with only four players having played more than 50 tests.
Meyer agreed that the lack of experience was one of his biggest concerns but that as long as the players kept learning and improving he would be happy.
“It is a cliché but you only get experience by playing. If you look at our forwards Duane Vermeulen is playing his first test match, Marcell (Coetzee) will be playing his sixth test match. He is still an under-21 player while Eben Etzebeth is still only 20,” said Meyer.
“There is a bigger plan and I’m happy that these guys are getting a lot of test matches. We want to hit the World Cup with these guys being 24 or 25 years old with 40 plus test matches under their belts.
But the guys only get experience by playing and being in these conditions.
“They need to learn from their mistakes. I wasn’t happy with our execution against Argentina (a 16-16 draw). If you look at the game when we made a few changes in the game-plan and our mentality going into the second half and we won that half 13-3.
“It showed that they learnt from the first half but Saturday is going to be a huge challenge. Australia has beaten us in the last four games and we had great sides playing against them. Australia have a few injuries but there is still a lot of firepower out there and they have a very well-balanced team,” he added.