'Wallabies’ record against Boks counts for naught'
Australia’s recent winning record against South Africa will count for nothing when the two teams clash in the Rugby Championship in Perth on Saturday, Wallaby coach Robbie Deans said.
Australia have won their last four matches against South Africa and have won six of the last seven matches against the Springboks.
But Deans, who has come under increasing pressure after Australia’s two losses to the All Blacks in their first two Rugby Championship matches, said that that past meant nothing in a match which could prove pivotal in deciding who eventually wins the inaugural Rugby Championship.
South Africa are currently second on the log with six points, two points behind New Zealand, but with the All Blacks heavily favoured to beat Argentina in Wellington on Saturday a loss for the Boks in Perth would not be the best tonic ahead of a trip to Dunedin to face New Zealand on September 15.
This video is not available in your region
“The past is genuinely totally irrelevant. It is an important game for both teams. They will desperately want a result and so do we,” Deans told reporters in Perth on Friday.
There seems to be a genuine anger in the Wallaby camp following the criticism that has been levelled at Deans and the team with even former players happy to take pot shots at Deans following Australia’s heavy 22-0 loss to New Zealand in Auckland.
Deans admitted that the criticism has stung but that it did not add any extra pressure to him and his charges.
“It’s (criticism) not something that you enjoy. You want to change your circumstances and I guess this is our first opportunity to get started.
“Every test match you have a point to prove. They stand alone. They stand alone in terms of the calendar and this date will never come around again. This test match will never come around again. The whistle goes and it is 80 minutes full on and then it’s done,” Deans said.
At times it seems difficult to believe that a test match will be played in Perth on Saturday with many locals seemingly unaware that the game is even on while television news has been bereft of coverage of the build-up to the test.
But the large South African ex-pat community is well aware of the approaching test match and they turned out in their droves to support an outdoor function when Australia and South Africa players mingled with the crowd and signed autographs with the smell of meat from the braai, which had been set up for the occasion, hanging in the air.
South Africa have won two of their last three tests in Perth and Deans is only too aware of how much of a following that the Springboks enjoy in the city.
“They certainly have a lot of support here which was evident the other night when we had a public event. Every arena in test footy is a cauldron, there is a great atmosphere. There is a lot of interest and a lot of enthusiasm in the game,” he explained.
Deans said that although he expected South Africa to present a tough physical challenge he was nevertheless well aware that the Springboks were just as capable of playing a running game if they desired.
“They ask of you physically first and they also ask of you in terms of your positional play. They are a side that is very capable of playing a structured game whereby they put you under pressure and make you work hard to get out of your end.
“All those components with be there again but they are also a side that is prepared to use the width. They have broadened their game a lot. Heyneke’s background was with the Bulls and if you look at the development of the Bulls game, you can go back to 2002 when they were essentially at the bottom of the log and how many titles have they won now?
“You can look at the development of their game, the development of their conditioning they are capable of playing any game,” he concluded.