Cape Town - Springbok flank Francois Louw expects the Wallabies to “keep us running” the whole day, but has a plan of his own to make sure they don’t succeed.
Francois Louw (Gallo Images)
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According to the supersport.com website, the Wallabies have already made their intentions known with the team they chose on Wednesday, a side full of gamebreakers which will rely heavily on Quade Cooper to spark their revival and give coach Ewen McKenzie his first win of his tenure as Wallaby coach.
With Michael Hooper in their arsenal, the biggest area that the Boks have of concern is undoubtedly the breakdown. Dominance there will ensure quick ball to launch attacks, but if the Boks are to disrupt the team, then Louw and company have their perfect target point to allow Cooper little space and to stunt the Wallaby hopes of a victory.
Louw spoke candidly after the team announcement, acknowledging he and his fellow loose forwards know what to expect, and believe they have the plan to counter it.
“They’re definitely going to try and compete there and try and disrupt our ball, and they will want good clean ball to attack from, so it is definitely going to be a hotly-contested area this weekend,” Louw said.
But then again Argentina looked a mere formality to many in Mendoza, only to physically counter the Boks up front and deny them good ball. It was a lesson learnt that Louw believes his team won’t have to be taught again.
“Argentina were very effective and disrupted our flow of play. But that was our game, and it is difficult to say we’ve focused on that, it is an area where you always want to do well. But this is a new game and a new team, and the focus is always on that.
“I think Australia are a more expansive, attack-focused side who really want to attack this weekend. We know them as a side that really try and run the opposition off their feet. Whichever way you play, the bottom line is that you want good clean ball from the breakdown. I think they will try and keep ball in hand a lot and run at us.”
The threat of Hooper, who will be the main threat at the breakdown this weekend, hasn’t been lost on Louw.
“He’s been doing a good job for them, and I don’t think it should change in any sense with regards to personnel,” he explained.
“The principles stay the same, we need to be there first, we need to have a presence there and we need to dominate the breakdown regardless who we play. They have players who are focused there and will be very good at the breakdown, so it will be a good contest, but that is what you want.”
Louw believes the team have moved up significantly since the corresponding contest in Perth last year. Leading at halftime they succumbed to a second half fightback by the Wallabies and lost the game in the end. This time he feels they are stronger and more experienced.
“I think we’ve taken massive strides since I came into the side last year. Last year’s Rugby championship was obviously disappointing. The games didn’t go quite as we would have liked but the team is building, and now we’re coming off eight victories and that is something that we will take as confidence. “
The breakdown has received a lot of attention this week with a lot of talk surrounding it. But the Boks know the only thing that matters is how they react on Saturday. Whoever dominates the breakdown will go a long way to winning the contest.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Nick Cummins, 13
Adam-Ashley Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Quade
Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5
Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1
Substitutes: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben
Alexander, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt
Toomua, 23 Jesse Mogg
Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers
(captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane
Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4
Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp,
18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano
Vermaak, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein