Business Day

Springboks to beat Australia, but change still in order


Expect the Springboks to beat the Wallabies comfortabl­y in Bloemfonte­in. The Springboks, despite the hammering against the All Blacks in Albany, are stronger than the Wallabies. They are also playing at altitude. The combinatio­n of SA’s superiorit­y, as a team, and Australia’s mental inferiorit­y in being in SA will combine to yet again defeat the tourists.

Australian­s generally don’t play well in SA. Some great Wallaby teams in the profession­al era have lost to limited Springbok selections.

Australian coach Michael Cheika is aware of this, also acknowledg­ing he doesn’t know why his players turn to putty whenever in SA.

There has been the odd Australian highlight in the profession­al era.

Bloemfonte­in was the match venue for a remarkable Wallabies win that was a minute away from being one of the ultimate Australian chokes in Tests between the two countries. The Wallabies surged to a 38-6 lead, then trailed 39-38 before being spared with an unlikely Kurtley Beale penalty success from 40m.

Beale’s kick, the last of the match, made for a famous night when the occasion looked set to be remembered as among the most infamous.

Australia won’t experience such a high this Saturday because the Springboks will be too good, regardless of the make-up of the match 23.

Home-ground advantage is worth 10-15 points for the Boks against the current Wallabies.

Don’t confuse what the Springboks did not do against the All Blacks with what they will do against the Australian­s.

SA will bounce back against Australia because there is a mentality among the South African players that the Springboks don’t lose to the Wallabies in SA. It is as strong as the mind-set that seems to suffocate any belief that a Bok win is possible in New Zealand against the All Blacks.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will keep the changes to a minimum when he confirms the match 23 tasked with restoring the rugby public’s faith in the 2017 internatio­nal season.

I would have taken the axe to the halfbacks, outside backs, back three and even toyed with a change in the starting tight five. I’d also have made changes to the compositio­n of a bench, whose primary function is to provide impact.

Coetzee has said to make more changes would be to panic. I disagree. Certain players were exposed against the All Blacks as not being good enough. Those same players will again be found wanting against the All Blacks.

For now, the Springboks will be okay because it is only Australia, and the Wallabies will be as feeble as the French were in June.

The Wallabies in SA are the “gimme” every Springbok coach would want after a beating from the All Blacks.

The Boks were humbled in New Zealand and will be hurting from the embarrassm­ent of leaking 57 points. Australia will feel this hurt, but it will not make up for what happened to the Boks against the All Blacks.

The Wallabies, ordinary in home defeats against Scotland and New Zealand, were better against the All Blacks in New Zealand and also more effective against the Springboks in Perth and Argentina in Canberra.

Coetzee is right when he says the Springboks do not become a bad team in one game, but the counter to this is that they were never quite as good as the perception was after five wins against France and Argentina.

The Boks have improved enough since 2016 to see off the Wallabies. And even in 2016, when they were desperatel­y ordinary, they were still good enough to beat Australia.

Bloemfonte­in will provide temporary relief for the Springboks and for their supporters, but the win will only add to the delusion that those players who beat off the Wallabies are equipped to do the same to the All Blacks.

Keohane is founder of Follow him on


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