Wallabies feel they're on the up
September 27, 2013
Wallabies skipper James Horwill is optimistic about his side's chances of toppling the Springboks © Getty Images
It's hardly good fortune but the Wallabies aren't carrying any battle scars from their last Rugby Championship match in South Africa.
The Australians were thrashed 31-8 by the Springboks in Pretoria in September 2012 but it's a result that hardly gets a mention in their team camp in Cape Town. No wonder, with only five players from that 22-man squad still in the line-up for the Newlands Test.
Big names like Nathan Sharpe, Digby Ioane, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Kurtley Beale and Berrick Barnes are all missing from the current Test side. Such a massive turnover of players and a new coach with Ewen McKenzie replacing Robbie Deans could be used as excuses for their stuttering form. Not that they are looking for any.
Captain James Horwill, who missed the corresponding match in 2012 after hamstring surgery, feels they're slowly but surely on the up.
"I think confidence is a big thing," Horwill said. "We're working to build something here and it's very hard for it to happen immediately but I think we're trending in the right way."
They weren't able to push on after a rousing win in their second Test of British & Irish Lions series, losing game three and the series. After a gritty one-point victory in their last outing against Argentina in Perth, the Wallabies are hoping it's not another case of one step forward, two steps back.
He admits the results so far in the Rugby Championship - the sole win over Argentina, two losses to New Zealand and a demoralising 38-12 performance against the Springboks in Brisbane are not ideal.
"It's always very disappointing losing, no-one enjoys it, it doesn't matter who the coach is or what team you're playing," Horwill said. "Winning one out of four in the Rugby Championship is not good enough from where we sit."
The Wallabies are given little chance of toppling the Boks at Newlands, where they haven't won since 1992, but Horwill felt there was no reason they couldn't win. He reminded his players that many have played, and beaten, the Springboks players this year during Super Rugby. Horwill said the team went into every game expecting to win.
"That's part of playing for the Wallabies, you are expected to perform," he said. "The public, us, we expect to win. That's the way it is. We are playing in their backyard and I guess that gives them a leg up initially but we see it as a good opportunity, in that sense, to prove some people wrong."
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year