This weekend sees the Springboks take on the Wallabies in Perth in what has to be considered as Heyneke Meyer’s toughest test yet in charge. The Socialite finds out more…
So far the Bok coach remains undefeated but recent draws against underdogs England and Argentina have seen mounting pressure on the former Blue Bulls coach.The Springboks have lost to the Wallabies in their last four meetings and their record in Australia is mediocre at best. They will, however, be hoping that the Subiaco Oval, the venue for Saturdays clash, will be the happy hunting ground it has been in the past with the Springboks notching up 3 wins and a draw against two losses.
Against Argentina the Bok pack sorely missed the presence of an “enforcer” in the mould of Bakkies Botha who always kept the opposition pack busy. Andries Bekker neglected the breakdowns in favor of a ball carrying role but with Duane Vermeulen set to start, the Springboks have other big ball carrying options at no 8 and at no 7 where Willem Alberts looks set to retain his place. It seems likely that the big Western Province man will lose his place to Juandre Kruger who was solid, if unspectacular in the series win against England.
Another likely shift will see Ruan Pienaar shift to scrum half with Francois Hougaard shifting to the wing in place of Lwazi Mvovo. Big things were expected of Francois Hougaard after last season but the dynamic man has failed to make an impact at scrum half. It was at wing, however, that he made an instant impact scored the match winning try in the 2011 world cup win over Wales.
Fans of the running game may once again be frustrated should Morne Steyn start at fly half as is expected. He has seldom posed a threat as a runner and his largely predictable distribution has repeatedly failed to spark the back line. There was a time when he was widely regarded as the best place kicker in the game with a a world record streak of 41 consecutive kicks at goal, but even this aspect of the former player’s player of the year has come under scrutiny, with his success rate dropping in recent seasons.
In Robbie Deans Australia have arguably the best coach in the world, and in Quade Cooper, Will Genia, and Kurtley Beale, they have dynamic runners capable of turning the game on it’s head in an instant. The Springboks will have it all to do in Perth against a team who have consistently exposed their shortcomings.