Wallabies ready for physical Boks
August 3, 2009
Stirling Mortlock has called on his players to take something away from Cape Town on Saturday © Getty Images
Australia captain Stirling Mortlock has attempted to fire up his side as they prepare to face Peter de Villiers' imposing Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday.
Mortlock has taken a role at the head of Wallaby preparations after they flew to South Africa without coach Robbie Deans, who is in New Zealand following the death of his father and is expected to join up with the squad on Wednesday.
Despite the Springboks having blitzed the underperforming All Blacks in consecutive Test matches, Mortlock believes that any positive result, including a losing bonus-point, could play in to his team's hands come the end of the Tri-Nations.
"I did mention in New Zealand that gaining one bonus point for us was a big plus because in the past it has been the difference," Mortlock told AAP. "The reality of this Tri Nations is that the teams are very, very tight - all three - and away victories are pretty rare. So we've just got to make sure we do everything in our power to go out there on Saturday with a great opportunity to play well and hopefully win."
An away win is a prized commodity in the southern hemisphere's premier competition, and this year's tournament has so far seen the home side triumph. With this fact in mind, Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore has called for a huge effort in stealing a march ahead of two home Tests against the Springboks and one against the All Blacks.
"It's a huge game for us," Moore said. "You've just got to win your home games and any games you can pick up away puts you in good stead, so that's the way we're approaching it. With the Boks having three home games to start with, they can really set themselves up well.
"So it's important as far as the tournament goes that we can get a win this Saturday to stay in the hunt."
Moore, who will go up against the in-form Bismarck du Plessis at Newlands, admitted that his forward colleagues had some work to do in order to match the rampaging physicality of the Springboks. The Wallabies lost the armwrestle against New Zealand in their opening defeat, and given the All Blacks' drubbing up front in the last two Tests his concern is well founded.
"We probably weren't where we should have been in Auckland," he said. "Test rugby in general is becoming more and more physical every year. That's just the nature of Test football. Guys are getting more physical or more athletic every year.
"You look at some of the Springbok forwards and the physicality and athleticism of some of those guys is pretty scary. It's something we've really got to match."
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship