Wallabies mull ways to counter dy­namic Spring­boks back­row duo of Kolisi, Kriel

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

>> PERTH: Aus­tralia are look­ing to match the Spring­boks dy­namic back­row to claim their first win of this year’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship, skip­per Michael Hooper said yes­ter­day.

South Africa are un­beaten in the south­ern hemi­sphere cham­pi­onship af­ter home and away wins over Ar­gentina with blind­side flanker Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel stand­outs at the back of the scrum.

“We ex­pect them to be very strong over the ball, both of those play­ers [Kriel and Kolisi] are re­ally good car­ri­ers and de­fend­ers there,” Hooper told re­porters ahead of to­day’s Test in Perth.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent jer­sey size at the end of the day from some of the guys that used to be play­ing to what they are now.

“But [they’re] no less ef­fec­tive in what they do and how they get around the field.”

Hooper said the Wallabies have their own back­row strike weapon in No.8 Sean McMa­hon, who was im­mensely ef­fec­tive in the 35-29 loss to New Zealand in Dunedin a fort­night ago.

“Sean’s strong in the tackle, strong mak­ing his tack­les and he’s good over the ball as well,” Hooper said.

“It’s noth­ing new there, just ev­ery­one do­ing their role and par­tic­u­larly Sean can have a mas­sive in­flu­ence when he gets that right.”

Kolisi has claimed man-of-the­match awards in both wins over the Pu­mas in Port El­iz­a­beth and Salta and is look­ing at an­other tip top per­for­mance against the Wallabies.

“I want to play well and make sure that I put my firm hand on the jer­sey be­cause I haven’t played a lot in a start­ing po­si­tion so I am try­ing to use that as best as I can,” Kolisi said.

“We are very young and I’ve only got a cou­ple of Tests un­der my belt and we learn a lot from each other.

“We started our own cul­ture this year that we can live by and that is what we are driv­ing,” he added.

Aus­tralian coach Michael Cheika said his Wal­laby for­ward pack will face a phys­i­cal chal­lenge against the Spring­boks, who are on a five-match win­ning run.

The Wallabies’ scrum l ooked shaky in their last out­ing against the All Blacks, prompt­ing Cheika to re­call tight-head prop Sekope Kepu for Al­lan Alaala­toa.

Tatafu Polota-Nau comes in at hooker for the ex­pe­ri­enced Stephen Moore, while lock Adam Coleman re­turns from a shoul­der in­jury.

“Ob­vi­ously, they’ve got their swag­ger at the mo­ment,” Cheika said of the Spring­boks.

“They’ve had a cou­ple of re­ally good wins and tra­di­tion­ally, they’ll look at push­ing us around in the pack.

“We’re going to have to be at our best to make sure we can go toe-to-toe with them.”

It has been a torrid year for Aus­tralia, win­ning only two of their five in­ter­na­tion­als and com­ing off a mis­er­able Su­per Rugby sea­son cli­maxed by the con­tentious ax­ing of Perth­based Western Force from next year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Aus­tralia’s Michael Hooper runs with the ball against New Zealand.

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