Match Preview – Australia vs South Africa

Preview
Can Michael Hooper lead Australia to another win over South Africa? Or will Siya Kolisi and the Springboks respond?

Can Michael Hooper lead Australia to another win over South Africa? Or will Siya Kolisi and the Springboks respond?

We look at the major talking points and team news ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test between Australia and South Africa, live on Sky Sports.

Kolisi promises improved performance

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said it was “difficult to watch” their review of last weekend’s error-strewn loss to Australia but the world champions were determined to make amends in the Rugby Championship rematch in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Springboks were poor in their execution on both defence and attack in the 28-26 loss on the Gold Coast, with Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper kicking the winning penalty after the siren.

Australia secured a remarkable 28-26 victory over South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash

Australia secured a remarkable 28-26 victory over South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash

Australia secured a remarkable 28-26 victory over South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash

Kolisi said they had pinpointed their errors and promised a much more polished display this weekend.

“We know where we went wrong and it was very upsetting to lose like that, with the mistakes we made. It was difficult to watch,” he told media on Friday.

“Because of that, we are more determined this week. We have worked really hard on what we must do. We made such simple errors. We can be much better this weekend, and we will be.”

Kolisi has vowed that there will be an improvement in South Africa's performance

Kolisi has vowed that there will be an improvement in South Africa’s performance

The Boks were left scrambling in defence and while they only conceded one try they were forced into numerous offside penalties that cost them on the scoreboard.

“You can see for yourself, 21 missed tackles and we also had less dominant tackles,” said Kolisi. “It is one of the lowest defensive games we’ve had. Australia played really well, they dominated the hits when they had ball in hand.”

Woodward: Springboks’ lack of style is killing the game

Rugby will be dead in five years if more teams copy South Africa’s approach to the game, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward has said, criticising the world champions’ reluctance to run with the ball and heavy reliance on the set-piece.

South Africa, who play Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, lost 28-26 to the Wallabies last week after the Australians beat the Springboks after South Africa’s determination not to run the ball.

“Positive, imaginative, attacking rugby is the way forward generally,” Woodward said in the Daily Mail.

“I looked on in horror last weekend at the sheer poverty and boredom from the South Africa team against Australia.

“Rugby was not and is not meant to be played like that and I’m just pleased Australia won.

Sir Clive Woodward has again criticised South Africa's style of play this week, which revolves around kicking and set-piece

Sir Clive Woodward has again criticised South Africa’s style of play this week, which revolves around kicking and set-piece

“It should worry everyone involved in the sport that rugby is going down that route. It will be dead in five years if it does.”

Woodward doubted that even South Africa’s players were happy with the way they played the game.

“The ball must always be your friend, not a ticking time-bomb,” he added. “What is the point of neutralising your best players, kicking the leather off the ball all day?

“I’d love to sit down with the South Africa team and ask them: ‘Do you really enjoy playing this way?'”

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Stick: SA won’t play this champagne rugby

As well as from Woodward, South Africa have been criticised more widely this week for their style of play, which relies on a strong kicking game and set-piece dominance, but assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said backline players can play a more ball-in-hand style if they choose.

“If the space is there for them to take, they always have the freedom to do so. I wouldn’t say we don’t look for (attacking) opportunities,” he added.

Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the players have license to play, but they will not play 'champagne rugby'

Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the players have license to play, but they will not play ‘champagne rugby’

“But we are not going to try and force things and play this champagne rugby that everybody is talking about. It is not in us.

“The most important thing for us is playing the pressure game, through the boot, set piece or with ball in hand.”

‘Wallabies great Hooper sets leadership standard’

Michael Hooper will captain his country for a record 60th time when he runs out for the Wallabies against the Springboks in Brisbane, and he will do so with the ringing endorsement of his coach in his ears.

The openside flanker, still a month short of his 30th birthday, has led Australia in the Test arena for most of the last decade, during which he has been almost an ever-present in the side.

Hooper will captain the Wallabies for the 60th time on Saturday

Hooper will captain the Wallabies for the 60th time on Saturday

Dave Rennie, who did not hesitate to reappoint Hooper to the role when he took over as coach in 2020, said this week he would be “gobsmacked” if anyone questioned his playing qualities.

“You talk to players around the world and he’s hugely respected,” the New Zealander told media.

“He’s a Wallaby great. If he was playing in a different era when you had a team full of very experienced and seasoned players and you’re dominating the world, he’d go down as one of the best players in the world and one of the greats.

“He’s just so resilient. Even the other day against the All Blacks, Brodie Retallick splits him open, he gets 20-odd stitches, puts a hat on and jumps back on out there and gives the same intensity.”

Australia head coach Dave Rennie has labelled Hooper a 'Wallaby great'

Australia head coach Dave Rennie has labelled Hooper a ‘Wallaby great’

Although he played in the 2015 World Cup final, Hooper’s nine-year Test career has encompassed a mostly disappointing era for Australian rugby.

Hooper, though, was not about to join his coach in conjecture about his status had he played in Australia’s golden age.

“That’s not even something to consider, I’m here, I’m now,” he told media on Friday.

“I’ve been more than lucky being around some of the teams and players I have been. I’ve loved it.”

Team News

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White; 1 James Slipper, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 3 Taniela Tupou, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Matt Philip, 6 Lachie Swinton, 7 Michael Hooper, 8 Rob Valetini.

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Marvin Orie, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Franco Mostert, 8 Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.

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