Rugby Championship

Aus expect aerial bombardment

2012-09-25 19:00
Berrick Barnes (AFP)

Johannesburg - Australia's Berrick Barnes is expecting the Springboks to bombard the Wallabies with high kicks and said the tactic had contributed to Australia struggling to beat them in Perth on September 8.

"You're not allowed to kick in Australia!" he joked. "But there's a real appreciation for the kicking game here, I guess it depends on what you find entertaining.

"It's a huge part of Test rugby, how you exit your own half and we struggled with that in Perth. We'll endeavour not to try as many grubbers this time.

"They can be effective if you get them through the line, it's just we didn't get any through.

Barnes is expected to play at fullback in Saturday's Test in Pretoria, with Kurtley Beale likely to be picked at flyhalf.

The Springboks have received fierce criticism for their one-dimensional game plan, which has left them without a victory in their last three Rugby Championship games. But the Australian doesn't expect the South Africans to alter much in their strategy.

"I'm sure I'll either be at 10 or 15, and if I'm fullback then I'll have a lot more work under the high ball. No side tests the fullback as much as the Springboks do. People talk about the forward battle, but you have to deal with the kicking game as well," Barnes told reporters on Tuesday.

Wallabies media manager Matt McIlraith said a gastrointestinal bug had affected the Australian camp, with lock and captain Nathan Sharpe, props James Slipper and Ben Alexander, lock Sitaleki Timani and loose forwards Liam Gill and Scott Higginbotham all being laid low.

The Wallabies will also be without hooker Stephen Moore, who strained a hamstring. McIlraith said uncapped Reds hooker James Hanson was on his way to South Africa to cover for Moore.

The 29-year-old Moore will remain level with Jeremy Paul on 72 caps as Australia's most-capped hooker.

Australia will announce their team on Thursday afternoon.

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