Tri-Nations

Oz ready for physical Boks

2011-07-21 10:31
David Pocock (AP)

Sydney - Australia's returning backrower David Pocock says the Wallabies are prepared for a fierce and physical South Africa challenge in Saturday's Tri-Nations opener.

Australia, eager to make up for a humiliating 32-23 loss to Samoa, has included seven regular Wallabies missing from Sunday's defeat.

Pocock, who has recovered from a foot injury, said on Thursday the Wallabies have done a lot at training to turn things around from last weekend.

"Everyone knows when you play South Africa you've got to be up for it," Pocock said. "Otherwise, it's going to be a hard day at the office."

"It's also a big mindset thing; meeting them in that physical battle."

After torrential rain in Sydney, the match is expected to be played in slow and muddy conditions, which scrumhalf Will Genia says Australia will look to take advantage of.

"It's a lot easier, when it's raining, to just turn them around and put it into the corners and try and put pressure on them that way," Genia said.

"You can't throw the ball around as much as you can when it's dry. So we might have to tighten up a little bit as well and we'll just adjust on the night."

Pocock said the wet conditions serve as useful preparation for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand starting from September.

"It'll be good in the long term as far as preparation goes, and good for the side in general to be able to play in whatever conditions and be able to adjust to a different sort of game style."

South Africa has left more than 20 regular internationals at home to rest up ahead of the Springboks' two home Tri-Nations Tests and the World Cup starting in September.

"We feel like we can exert pressure on them, not just through our attack but through our defense as well," Genia said. "Hopefully we can stifle their attack and we're confident that when we have the ball in hand - with the players that we have - that we can score points."

While the Wallabies are bolstered by the return of their big names, 92-Test veteran Matt Giteau's World Cup chances are in doubt after failing to make the 22-man squad for Saturday's match - an omission that sparked criticism on Thursday.

Eddie Jones, who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, said he was baffled by current coach Robbie Deans' decision and said opposition teams would be happy to see Giteau left out. John Connolly, the 2007 Wallabies coach said Giteau needed to be given a major role in the Wallabies line-up.

Wallabies great Tim Horan, meanwhile, said Giteau was too good a player not to go to the World Cup.

The prospects look slightly brighter for Berrick Barnes, who will play at fullback for Sydney University in club rugby Saturday as he attempts to comeback from several weeks of self imposed rest after multiple concussions.

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