Aus expecting improved Steyn
Francois Steyn (Gallo Images)
Durban – The Wallabies are expecting a much improved performance from Springbok fullback Frans Steyn in Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test in Bloemfontein.
While Steyn was a factor in the weekend’s victory of 44-31 at Loftus Versfeld, he also made a few blunders and his kicking in general play was poor.
But that is a luxury the Aussies realise they cannot continue to bank on.
“Frans Steyn may have been a little rusty, but he’s world class and we expect him to be at his best this weekend,” said Wallaby skills coach Richard Graham.
“He’s in the middle of the European pre-season and would not have played much rugby there. He now has a Test under the belt and should be much better for it. We put him under pressure with his kicking. It’s not something he could have worked on during training and the experience would have helped him for this coming weekend.”
The Wallabies’ focus this week will be on improving their set-piece and to finish better. They lost the plot in the lineouts when Nathan Sharpe left the field in the second half and also could not apply the finishing touches to some raids into Springbok territory in the second half.
“Victor Matfield’s lineout play is excellent, but we have to stick to our plan and take the right lineout options,” said Wallaby forwards coach JimWilliams.
While the Wallabies were beaten 37-10 in the last 70 minutes on Saturday – the Aussies had led 21-7 after 10 minutes – they still appear to believe that they lost the Test rather than the Springboks winning it.
“The team views it as a game that got away from us,” said young tighthead prop James Slipper, who was a substitute in Pretoria.
“We had a good lead, but allowed the Boks back in every time. Some of the set-pieces at the end also were not up to scratch.
“The team is disappointed considering all the possession we had and we are ready to play a big game this weekend.”
Slipper may well get a bit more game time off the bench in the second half and have the opportunity to make his mark against the Bok scrum.
There is probably a lot at stake for a number of Wallabies as some of their injured players may be back in contention come the end-of-season tour.
“I won’t call it a dead rubber,” Slipper said of Saturday’s Test, which will help determine which team finishes second.
“Last week’s Test was one of the best in this year’s competition in my view and would have been good entertainment for the supporters. We don’t like losing and that is probably also the case with other teams. It’s certainly not a dead rubber.”