Wallabies, Boks forecast changes for Brisbane test
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer and his Wallabies counterpart Ewen McKenzie are both expected to make changes to their starting lineups for Saturday’s Rugby Championships clash.
South Africa hasn’t beaten Australia in seven tests at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, formerly Lang Park, including in six meetings in the Tri-Nations tournament or Championships. Meyer played down that statistic on Monday but said he expected to freshen his starting lineup after a taxing travel schedule involving trips to Argentina and Australia.
The Springboks posted back-to-back wins over the Pumas, winning 73-13 in Pretoria and 22-17 in Mendoza, while the Wallabies lost both of their home and away matches against New Zealand.
“There will be a few changes, mostly due to rotational, and also we want to have the most fresh team as possible on the field,” Meyer told reporters on Monday. “We’ve traveled a lot and we’re going to play three away matches on the trot ... so it’s important to have fresh guys.”
Meyer indicated hooker Bismarck du Plessis would be promoted into the starting lineup, replacing Adrian Strauss and acting as vice-captain under skipper Jean de Villiers.
McKenzie also hinted at changes for Australia but didn’t elaborate. Still seeking his first win as Australian coach, McKenzie said Monday “there’s always potential for change.”
“We’re playing a different team in a different context so different things will come into play,” he said. “We’re definitely looking at that.”
McKenzie is widely tipped to start Quade Cooper at flyhalf ahead of Matt Toomua, with Australia expected to use a fast-paced game in a bid to stretch the larger Springboks forwards.
“It’s about how we want to play the game tactically, then we’ll have a look at the best guys to do that,” McKenzie said.
Toomua played soundly in both of Australia’s tests against New Zealand but Cooper can bring an element of unpredictability to the Wallabies’ game.
Meyer indicated a wariness of Cooper’s playmaking ability, particularly in combination with Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia.
“I think it’s just a matter of time when he comes back, just hopefully not against the Boks,” Meyer said. “A player like that I would love to have in my team.”
McKenzie expected the Springboks to play to their strengths which, he said, were set pieces, territorial pressure and attacking mauls.
“Their formula works for them,” he said. “That’s how they do it — that’s the Springbok way.
“We’re in the process of how we want to do it — the Australian way — and it’s a bit different. There’s a clash of rugby approaches.
“They love having set pieces and they structure most of their game from that. That’s what they want. The question is whether you give it to them.”