PRETORIA - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is under no illusion of the attacking prowess of the Wallabies and has called on his side to have their wits about them on defence ahead of their Rugby Championship clash in Perth on Saturday.
The Wallabies have blown hot and cold since the competition kicked off, losing both of their Tests against the All Blacks but it was in their narrow defeat in Dunedin that Coetzee realized the danger that the Australians pose on attack.
In that 35-29 last gasp loss to the All Blacks, the Wallabies scored five tries some of which had been built from several phases from set-piece play emanating primarily from the line-out.
It is the Wallabies line-out which the Springboks must target and nullify as the men from Down Under have apparently not lost a single line-out this year according to Coetzee.
Coetzee’s concern is that from the line-out, the Wallabies are able to generate waves of attack, which inevitably leads to them crossing over the whitewash in the same manner they did against the All Blacks, who generally have a rock solid defence.
“We have a lot of respect for the Australians and they ask different questions to most of the other sides. They always come with different running lines to contend with when it gets to general attack,” Coetzee said.
"They are a clever side and do things cleverly and their line-out work is really intelligent. They haven’t lost a line-out up until now, so it shows you the class of the Australians. They have played two Tests against the All Blacks and even though they lost to Scotland, they haven’t lost a line-out.
"And the line-out is a platform used to launch your attack from and still according to stats the most tries scored from turnover and line-outs. So, that line-out is an important platform and we need to be defensively very good at that."
But over and above the wisdom with which the Australians have been forced to revert to because of their limitations in mastering the finer art of the game, there were enough glimpses of a sudden return to form of some of the Wallabies go-to-men in centre Kurtley Beale, scrumhalf Will Genia, menacing flank Michael Hooper and the lanky Israel Folau.
If the Springboks can suffocate the Wallabies line-out and leave little or no space for Genia and Beale to operate than Hooper will be ineffective without ball in hand, while Folau will also be obsolete without possession, especially out of the air.
Coetzee, though, is confident that they have exhausted all that the Wallabies will throw at them with ball in hand and that his side have a firm grip of what is to come and how to stop them in their tracks.
The Springboks have been very economical when it comes to defence and have conceded the least number of points and tries in the competition so far.
“They’ve got X-factor players if you look at Folau and his aerial skills and the way they kick those contestable cross kicks to him, we got to be aware of that," Coetzee said "Genia is hitting his straps now and he is a threat, a running nine and we have to make sure that our defence is in check with that.
"We are facing defensively something different. Michael Hooper and the way they have two lines of attack is something different. They will set you up and then they will strike on the third or fourth phase when your defence becomes a bit more unstructured. But we know what to expect, we have a good understanding and we will continue with what we believe in and our processes."