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