Boks plan to spoil 'Pooper' party

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 11:36

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Skipper Adriaan Strauss said the Springboks had plans to make sure Australia's Michael Hooper and David Pocock don't dominate the breakdown in Saturday's Rugby Championship Test.

Strauss said South Africa would have to negate Australia's renowned "Pooper" back-row combination, with the breakdown likely to be one of the key areas of the game.

"We're going to need to front up there [in the breakdown]," Strauss told reporters. "There's a lot of tactics to get those guys out of the game.

"We just need to be sharp and we need to be aware of where they are on the pitch and what positions they're placing themselves on the field to make those steals and to slow the ball down."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has resisted calls for a back-row makeover by keeping both natural openside flanks in his starting team and calling up line-out jumper Dean Mumm at blindside flank.

Strauss said there wasn't a single way of stopping Hooper and Pocock's ball-pilfering, which made its first appearance in last year's corresponding Test in Brisbane.

"There's a lot of ways to try and keep them out of the game but they're also very clever players and they find ways to sneak into the rucks," he said.

"We've prepared quite well for that and on the day we just need to be sharp."

The Springboks traditionally struggle to win in Australia with just two victories in their last 12 Tests in the country. They have only won once in Brisbane (2013) since 1993.

But last year's Brisbane Test was decided by a Tevita Kuridrani try after the full-time siren and Strauss said he expected another close tussle this weekend.

"I think it's always a massive game against Australia, rivals in rugby and we haven't got a great record here in Brisbane," he said.

"But fortunately on the day history won't make any difference on the scoreline.

"We are fully aware that they are a good side, especially in Brisbane, so we're looking forward to having to play another tough game tomorrow."

South Africa have retained their back row of Warren Whiteley, Francois Louw and Oupa Mohoje, who played together in the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship against Argentina.

"We are an evolving team," Strauss said. "We're definitely not playing the type of rugby we want to play yet, but we know where we're heading.

"We know we've got a lot of shortcomings still. It's a growing process but we've been trying to speed that up."

Agence France-Presse

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