Head-to-head: Goosen v Beale
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 14:14
The game is more about what the future holds for the Springboks and Wallabies
Two of the most exciting young players on the planet, Johan Goosen and Kurtley Beale, will go head-to-head in a galvanic stand-off at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Neither South Africa, nor Australia have much of a chance of catching New Zealand in the Rugby Championship race.
Which means other than bragging rights and second place on the standings, the game will be more about what the future holds for the Springboks and Wallabies.
It may be for different reasons, but both teams are in a state of transition in the most pivotal position in the team.
Record-setting Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn has been axed, with the 20-year-old Goosen earmarked by coach Heyneke Meyer as a long-term replacement for the flyhalf who kicked South Africa to victory over the 2009 B&I Lions as well as a Tri-Nations series victory that year.
While Steyn's demise has been through his own loss of form, the changing of the guard in the Wallaby squad has come for a very different reason.
Controversial No.10 Quade Cooper, who has been ruled out of the remainder of Rugby Championship and require surgery to repair a small chip of articular cartilage in his right knee, has effectively killed of his Test career by repeating claims that the Wallaby environment is 'toxic'.
Beale, who will start a Test at flyhalf for the first time, has a chance to cement a place in the gold No.10 jumper - with Berrick Barnes (playing fullback this week) and the injured James O'Connor Australia's other options in the position.
Goosen is considered to be one of the brightest up-and-coming players in South African and while he is known for his excellent goal-kicking abilities, it is his line-breaking and distribution skills that will be under the spotlight on Saturday.
Beale, three years the senior of Goosen, made his Test debut at the end of 2009 when he appeared on the wing as a substitute in the 34–12 Wallaby victory over Wales. He made a number of mid-week match appearances on the Tour at flyhalf, but Saturday represents the 28-times capped's first Test start as a No.10.
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans spoke of the threat posed by the Springbok goal-kickers, even in the absence of Steyn, with Goosen, inside centre Francois Steyn and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar all accomplished goal-kickers.
"Discipline is always key, but there's no doubt about its importance when you play South Africa as they always have goal-kickers who can routinely kick goals anywhere on our side of halfway, or even from 60 metres at altitude in Francois's case."
Turning to his own team, Deans made it clear Beale will be given free reins to express himself with an expansive approach.
Beale operated at fullback, with Saturday's No.15 Berrick Barnes at No.10, when Australia beat Wales at Sydney in June; but Beale still finished the game with more touches from first receiver in the attacking line than had the selected flyhalf.
"The [jersey] number might be new, but his role within the game won't be," Deans said of Beale.
"Although his season hasn't been without challenge, Kurtley stepped up with his involvement on the Gold Coast [against Argentina a fortnight ago], making a difference when he was on the field.
"He's brought that enthusiasm forward with him since we've been in South Africa, has worked hard on the training track, and is excited about the opportunity ahead. He has good memories from some of his experiences over here."
He will be integral to Australia's gameplan to open up the match from the kick-off.
"Obviously he had an outing that no-one enjoyed in Sydney but he's such capable player he's never going to be down for long and he's really worked hard," Deans said.
"I'd never have any doubt about picking Kurtley anywhere.
"In terms of playing No.10 it's not an issue, he's such an instinctive player.
"One of the challenges for him will be when to play and when not to because he's a bloke who does hang on to the ball, flatten up the line and take the game to the opposition instinctively very well and does it easily."
Springbok vice-captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss said Goosen is unlikely to buckle under the pressure in the Loftus cauldron.
“Maybe he will be a bit nervous and just be in the moment," Strauss said of his Cheetahs teammate.
"I don't think the nerves will get the better of him.
“He is the player that I've come up against and met in my life that can handle pressure the best.
“It looks like he can't feel pressure and hopefully he can perform well this weekend.”
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