Boks wary of Wallaby backlash
The Springboks are wary of an Australia backlash when the two teams meet in the Rugby Championship in Perth on Saturday, South Africa skipper Jean de Villiers said.
Australia have come in for some heavy criticism after two successive defeats at the hands of the All Blacks while a few of their senior players, notably fullback Kurtley Beale after the 27-19 loss in Sydney and flyhalf Quade Cooper after the heavy 22-0 loss in Auckland have also not performed to their best.
But De Villiers said that the perception that Beale and Cooper were out of form made them especially dangerous.
“That can sometimes be very dangerous. Both of them are quality players and we are very conscious of the threat that they bring from an attacking point of view. In the past they have cut us apart a couple of times. They might be a bit out of form but they are classy players and when the pressure is on those guys usually perform so we will have to do our best to keep them quiet,” De Villiers told reporters in Perth on Friday.
De Villiers went on to say that losing to New Zealand did not make Australia a bad side and that it would be unwise to take them lightly.
“They were up against a quality side in New Zealand. They (NZ) are the number one ranked team and they are the World Cup holders so I don’t think that you must read too much into the result. Australia showed a lot of positives in those two games and they will always be a quality side.
“We have only beaten Australia once in seven games so that says a bit as well and it makes for a great game tomorrow,” he explained.
Australia may be missing up to 10 starters because of injury but they remain a dangerous team with a backline consisting of scrumhalf Will Genia, Cooper, outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper and Beale capable to beating the best in the world.
“They are a very skilled team. As a backline player they are very difficult to play against. They are very skilful on attack and defensively they are always solid. It will not be different this time around.
“They have a good mix in the pack. (Lock) Nathan Sharpe brings a lot to that team and he has a couple of youngsters around him like (flank) Michael Hooper than can also change a game,” said De Villiers.
De Villiers will be captaining the Springboks for the sixth time when he jogs out at Paterson’s Stadium on Saturday but Australia will pose a completely different challenge to England and Argentina, the only two teams that the Springboks have played under De Villiers.
England and Argentina both rely on powerful packs of forwards while making use of a tactical kicking game but Australia will play with the ball in hand a lot more.
“We’ve looked at it in the same way. Argentina and England play a similar game and Australia will be a much bigger threat on attack. They are very clever in what they do and we will have to be at our best. They are the number two ranked team in the world and you have to up your game if you want to beat the best.”