Wallabies to Face Full Strength Springboks
The Wallabies are gearing up to meet a near full strength Springbok side in Saturday’s tri-nations match in South Africa.
The Wallabies defeated an understrength South African side in the first match of the Tri-Nations 39-20, however they will face a much tougher task in Durban.
South Africa will bring back a host of stars including captain John Smit, world class locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha as well as Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez and Jean de Villiers.
“It’s clearly a different Boks side to the one we met in Sydney. It is essentially the incumbent World Cup squad that will be running out,” said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
“Obviously they (the returning players) have been sitting here and wouldn’t have enjoyed the recent fixtures and you’ve got a World Cup coming and the squad hasn’t been picked yet, so they’ve got an awful lot to play for.”
The Wallabies also have a lot to play for because a win in South Africa could put them in the box seat to claim the Tri-Nations trophy. South Africa are all but out of the race by virtue of their two losses, and with New Zealand coach Graeme Henry committed to sending a less than full strength squad to South Africa, the Wallabies could find themselves (assuming the understrength Kiwis lose to South Africa next week) playing the Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium in a virtual Tri-Nations final.
What’s more, this weekend’s test is the last chance for fringe Wallaby players to earn a call up into the World Cup Squad, which will be named shortly after the Aussies touchdown on their way home from South Africa.
“Without a doubt it (the World Cup squad) is not resolved. We know them all pretty well by now but, when it comes down to the last couple of positions, they’re quite key.” Deans said.
Injury is a big concern for Deans with a number of players having missed significant amounts of football in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
Drew Mitchell, Rob Horne, Wycliff Palu, James Slipper, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson have all been on the causality list, however they will get the chance to push their case for World Cup selection when the Australian Barbarians meet Canada on the Gold Coast on Friday night.
The finalised Wallaby World Cup squad will be announced on August 18, just hours after the Wallabies return from South Africa.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time, and it is fair to say the template has moved over time,” Deans said.
“There are still a lot of conversations going on, because some of the permutations around the final make up are critical. And you have to draw the line somewhere.
“We also have to see how we get through the Springbok Test because that could impact as well.”
With so many players on the fringe of selection, Wallabies prop Ben Alexander said he could sense the pressure building within the Wallabies camp.
“Everyone is trying to keep pretty relaxed but at training there is a definite edge,” Alexander said.
“We’ve got some really, really good players who aren’t getting a run at the moment so blokes that don’t perform on Saturdays are going to find themselves not there next Saturday.”
Springboks Squad for Wallabies Test
Backs: Gio Aplon, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Morne Steyn, Butch James, Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard.
Forwards: Ryan Krankowski, Ashley Johnson, Pierre Spies, Jean Deysel, Heinrich Brussow, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Gerhard Mostert, John Smit (Captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ Van der Linde.