Rugby Championship

Oz captaincy curse strikes

2012-09-08 16:38
Will Genia (AP Photo)

Perth - Australia's captain's curse struck again on Saturday when Will Genia became the third holder of the post to be injured this season when he hurt his knee in the 26-19 win over South Africa.

The inspirational halfback came off the field 10 minutes from the end of the match in Perth, which gave Australia their first victory in the inaugural Rugby Championship after they opened their campaign with successive defeats to New Zealand.

Genia will be keen to avoid joining his predecessors, lock James Horwill (hamstring) and openside flanker David Pocock (knee), in being ruled out of the competition because of injury.

"I took a high ball and twisted and heard a few cracks," Genia, on crutches with ice on the injured joint, said in a pitchside interview at the Subiaco Oval.

"It's actually quite sore so I'll have some scans and see what comes of it."

Australia coach Robbie Deans had come under huge pressure after the losses to the All Blacks, particularly the 22-0 defeat at Eden Park two weeks ago which saw the Wallabies shutout for the first time in 50 years against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Deans was happy with the scrappy victory, which ensured Australia would remain the number two ranked team in the world ahead of South Africa and behind New Zealand.

"I'm very proud of what they've done, it was a significant win," Deans said.

"It was good effort by the group, we went behind but responded and there was some good character.

"We made it harder for ourselves, particularly in the first half where we were struggling to get out of our end, and even at the death we were making some pretty average choices.

"But some good character and courage shown."

Deans was particularly frustrated by his backs kicking away good possession in the first half with what he described as "silly" grubber kicks.

"We've talked about it, but the habit's still there, and it makes it so hard for ourselves," he said.

Flyhalf Quade Cooper was one of the culprits but Deans will have been pleased with a much improved showing from the mercurial back in his second test back since the knee injury that ended his World Cup last year.

It was replacement loose forward Scott Higginbotham who fired the comeback victory, however, scoring with a rampaging charge up the middle just two minutes after coming on.

"The blokes who came off the bench did really well and in a testy situation," Deans said. "They showed good composure and that's all you can ask really."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer had injury worries of his own after prolific winger Bryan Habana limped off early in the second half, albeit after having scored his 42nd test try.

There was more bad news after the match when lock Eben Etzebeth was cited for a headbutt on opposite number Nathan Sharpe.

While Australia remain at home to face Argentina on the Gold Coast next week, Meyer, who oversaw a 16-16 draw with Argentina two weeks ago, takes his inexperienced side to New Zealand to take on the world champions.

"I know we can beat them if everything goes well," Meyer said. "It's going to be a huge challenge but we've got to be positive and focus."

His skipper Jean de Villiers agreed there was much to be positive about.

"We are not doubting the team at all," he said. "We know we're on the right track, but it's just learning from our mistakes and definitely the only way you will get experience is by playing."

Read more on:    springboks  |  wallabies  |  rugby championship  |  rugby

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