Brisbane – The Wallaby pack can’t go toe-to-toe with South Africa’s heavyweights at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday and Australia’s plan to stick and move will be spearheaded by Will Genia.
“I’ll be looking to run a bit more this week,” Genia told reporters here on Thursday.
“It’s about making the decision to have a go, take on the line, and provide a bit more of a threat around the ruck area.”
Australia are smarting from back-to-back losses against the All Blacks and a run of four losses in their last five matches.
Wallabies skipper James Horwill pulled out of the match with a hamstring strain and Genia has been given the captaincy, and the job of keeping the ball on the move.
“I like to have a go and, after having a chat to the coaches, they want me to have more of a go this week,” he said.
“That’s how I like to play and they’ve given me the freedom to do that.”
The All Blacks denied Genia that freedom in the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship and he was disappointed with his contribution in those matches.
The Wallabies halfback was subdued by the way the Kiwis stacked up in defence around the ruck.
“Traditionally with the All Blacks, they mark up quite heavily at that one, two and three defender (position around the ruck),” he said. “I found myself passing a lot, which felt quite unnatural.”
The 46-cap scrumhalf’s natural instincts are not to clear the ball off the deck, but to bait the forwards posted up on the fringes before giving it air.
“My game is to run to create space and opportunities around the ruck and, in terms of the team attack, that holds guys inside and creates space out wide.”
No-one is more adept at doing this than Genia.
If he’s allowed to roam, the Bok pack won’t be able to bring their power to bear at the point of contact, the tempo of the game will kick into overdrive, and travel fatigue will become a factor for the visitors.
“The fact that the Springboks have had to travel here and have guys coming over from Europe ... we’ll back our conditioning towards the back end of the game,” said Genia.
Morné Steyn, Bryan Habana, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Juandré Kruger and Jano Vermaak turned out for their French clubs last week and were late arrivals in Brisbane.
“It’s no secret that we want to use the ball and look to really play some rugby, but it’s important to start really well, build pressure and make them earn everything they get. Brisbane is hot – it’s different to places they’re used to.”
That may be the reason why the Boks haven’t won in Queensland’s capital since 1971 and have never tasted victory at the Suncorp.
Heyneke Meyer appears to have selected a team that plays right into Genia’s hands, with heavy-set plodders like Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen better suited for shotput than the steeplechase.
The reverse is true of Australia’s corresponding players who are built to run and have been picked to do just that.
While the fast pitch in Brisbane will accentuate the home team’s athleticism and foster an up-tempo ground attack, it will be impossible for Australia to elude physical confrontation for 80 minutes.
South Africa may have fewer opportunities to assert their physicality at the point of contact than would be the case against a less expansive side on a slower surface. But Meyer is counting on his abrasive forwards to expose Australia’s glass jaw when they do land a solid punch.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Israel Folau, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper. Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Jesse Mogg
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