Perth - Springboks Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White has called on the
Wallabies forwards to dramatically lift their standards against South
Africa on Saturday, otherwise they will suffer their third straight
humiliating Test loss.
The now Brumbies coach believes the Wallabies forwards' inability to
dominate the gain line battle has made it virtually impossible for the
Australian attack to perform.
White is not hiding from these comments, instead giving the team a
jarring rev-up for tomorrow night's Perth Test, with revealing
statistics that emphasise how impotent the Wallabies forwards were in
the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.
White, who was involved in 11 internationals against the Wallabies while
Springboks coach between 2004 and 2007, makes the telling point that
Radike Samo made more metres in one international last year than the
whole Wallabies pack combined in the Sydney and Auckland losses.
''Some of the statistics from the recent Bledisloe Cup clashes are mind
blowing,'' White wrote. ''In two Tests the Wallabies forwards carried
the ball just 80 metres (50 in Sydney then 30 in Auckland), while the
All Blacks forwards carried for 225 metres - almost three times as much.
''Much criticism has been aimed at the Wallabies attack for failing to
score a try in Auckland, but it may not be the backs' fault. The real
issue is the Wallabies forwards are not gaining any ascendancy at the
gain line so the backs have no platform to launch attacking raids.
''The backs can be creative as they like, and the Wallabies back line is
full of creative players, but without the time and space to execute
their attack they were easily closed down by the All Blacks.
''There could be two reasons for this. Either the Wallabies, in their
desperation to attack, are getting the ball to the backs too often or
the forwards are being given the ball but can't gain any ascendancy. The
latter isn't surprising as they are missing some of their best ball
carriers.'' This includes Wycliff Palu and James Horwill, who are both
injured, while Tatafu Polota-Nau and Samo hasn't started every Test.
''In one run last year against the All Blacks in Brisbane, Radike Samo
carried the ball more than the entire Wallabies pack in the first two
clashes this season. Whatever the cause, the Wallabies must go
White said the Springboks had ''the opposite problem''. Their forwards
were carrying the ball too much, and so their attack ''is one
dimensional, and, as we saw in Mendoza against Argentina, easily
contained''. This is because Heyneke Meyer ''is using the Bulls game
plan, based around forward power and gaining a physical edge over
The Wallabies forward woes do not end there. Hooker Stephen Moore was
yesterday ruled out due to a hamstring injury. As a result of the
strain, Polota-Nau will return to the starting line-up, with Saia
Faingaa moving onto the reserves bench.
At least tight-head prop Ben Alexander is prepared, explaining he was
not distracted by all the speculation over the future of beleaguered
coach Robbie Deans, whose position will be placed under greater scrutiny
if they lose to the Springboks.
''We feel a responsibility for the side not performing, and our concern
is that we play well for our country,'' Alexander said. ''The criticism
of Robbie hurts us too because its a reflection of us and how we didn't
do a great job representing our country [against the All Blacks].''
Meanwhile, Dan Carter's Wellington jinx has continued after being ruled
out of the All Blacks team to face Argentina on Saturday. Carter strained
his left calf muscle at an indoor training session on Thursday morning
and will be replaced in the starting No 10 jersey by Aaron Cruden.
Beauden Barrett, who has trained with the squad this week, will come onto the reserve bench.Teams:
15 Kurtley Beale, 14
Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby
Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael
Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben
Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson
Tatafu Polota Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam
Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Anthony Fainga'a
15. Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo