Australia v South Africa, Tri-Nations, August 29
Wallabies have done their homework
August 26, 2009
Australia's Lachie Turner takes on the New Zealand defence during last weekend's clash in Sydney © Getty Images
Ben Alexander Dan Carter Robbie Deans Rocky Elsom Will Genia Matt Giteau Sir Graham Henry Richie McCaw Ma'a Nonu
Wallabies winger Lachie Turner has warned the Springboks that his side have pinpointed some weaknesses in their rivals' approach ahead of their latest Tri-Nations clash in Perth on Saturday.
The boot of Morne Steyn, which has dominated in the Tri-Nations so far, looks to be the major obstacle to the Wallabies' hopes of posting their first win from four games, although the absence of Nathan Sharpe and Berrick Barnes will not help.
South Africa proved too strong for Australia in Cape Town earlier this month with the hosts running out winners 29-17 thanks largely to an effective kicking game. But Turner is confident that his side have learnt their lesson and is confident of a different result this time around.
"We've been working pretty hard over the last 18 months on our attacking kicking and that includes contestables, putting up high balls, the cross-field kicks to wingers and the little grubbers," he said. "We've been working hard on finding space all over the field and giving ourselves options to find it, and our kickers have been doing it well.
"Every team has weaknesses and we've had a fair bit of time to watch South Africa play. We've had time to find those weaknesses, but I might just hold what they are to myself for now."
Drew Mitchell will have to wait until the team announcement tomorrow to find out if he will play at wing or fullback on his return to Subiaco Oval. He is ready for the South Africans' kicking game as well, but is confident the Wallabies' versatility will help them get over the line.
"It's something that you come to expect when you play the Springboks with the great kickers they have in their side and they are good at it, so why would they steer away from it when they are getting good pay out of it?" Mitchell pondered. "As a back three, we know that it's coming and we just need to prepare the best we can to combat that. We just need to secure the ball first and foremost and take it from there.
"There will be times more suited to a kicking game, but through the course of the match other times when you will have the opportunity to run the ball and play the more expansive type of game. It's about having an awareness of what's in front of you and responding to that."
Despite the absence of key players, No.8 Richard Brown is confident Mark Chisholm can do a good job filling in for Sharpe, who has a shoulder injury, and that the Australians can get the win to stay alive in the competition.
"It's disappointing because those guys are quality players, but we are lucky to have a fair bit of depth at the moment in the squad and those guys will be able to be replaced," Brown said.
"Sharpey is our calling lock at the moment, so it's a problem to lose your calling lock, but at training Mark Chisholm filled his shoes and did a good job of it. He has been the dude calling the lineouts, but I don't pick the team.
"They have generally been close games and we've been right in them until the end, so we can take confidence that we aren't far away off winning, but having said that we are playing badly and still close to being able to win the competition."
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"Drafting former Lions heroes and rising stars into your side at short notice may make for great copy but it does not make for a great side." Graham Jenkins on the lesson from the Lions' first loss
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era