Rugby Championship

Pressure on rookie Goosen

2012-09-28 07:45
Johan Goosen (Gallo)

Johannesburg - South Africa are banking on 20-year-old flyhalf Johan Goosen against Australia in Pretoria Saturday to kick-start a Rugby Championship season that has veered off course.

After a comfortable home victory over debutants Argentina, the Springboks snatched a lucky draw in the southern hemisphere championship return fixture before surrendering leads in away defeats by Australia and New Zealand.

Defeat in Dunedin by bitter rivals the All Blacks was all the more painful because once deadly flyhalf Morne Steyn missed four of five kicks at goal, inside centre Francois Steyn two of two and replacement Goosen one of two.

These failures triggered a media and public outcry and coach Heyneke Meyer responded by axing Morne Steyn and giving a first Test start to a flyhalf whose senior rugby union career began only 12 months ago in the Currie Cup.

A shoulder injury sidelined Goosen for half the 2012 Super 15 season and Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske did not want Meyer to call up his "golden boy" after just one Currie Cup outing on his return to action.

But the Springbok coach believes a player who thinks nothing of attempting 60-metre shots at goal is destined to become a great and used him off the bench in Perth and Dunedin.

Morne Steyn craved a chance to redeem himself at the Loftus Versfeld stadium which is home to his Bulls team, but Meyer took the bold step of leaving him out of the match 22 with Elton Jantjies covering Goosen.

"I feel Johan is now ready to start a Test and I'm excited to see what he can bring. It is a great opportunity for him," said a coach feeling the pressure after starting his Springbok tenure with a 2-0 mid-year series win over England.

Meyer has also changed his locks, recalling Stormers pair Eben Etzebeth and 2.08-metre Andries Bekker in place of Bulls duo Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger, who lost five of their throws against New Zealand.

"Australia are very good in the line-outs and will put us under pressure there - that is why we have gone for taller players in Eben and Andries," explained the Springbok coach.

There could be a late fourth change as Francois Steyn faces a fitness test. If he drops out, Jaco Taute will win his first cap at outside centre with skipper Jean de Villiers moving to his preferred inside centre role.

Australia are seeking an unprecedented sixth consecutive victory over South Africa - including a 11-9 World Cup quarter-final win in Wellington last year -- but a first success at Loftus after five losses spanning 49 years.

"The Springboks are proud men and do not lose at Loftus very often. They will be spurred on by an atmosphere that is always electric there," warned New Zealand-born Australia coach Robbie Deans.

"They are coming off a tour which would have disappointed them. They were in both contests to the end and will feel that they could have won on both occasions."

Injured Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper has been replaced by regular full-back Kurtley Beale in the sole change from the team that staged a last-quarter rally to beat Argentina 23-19 in the Gold Coast.

Cooper has since stirred a storm via Twitter by claiming the two-time world champions are playing boring rugby and will continue to lose supporters and Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand.

But Goosen and Beale love nothing more than running with the ball and a sell-out 50 000 crowd are unlikely to be subjected to boring fare in a Test set to decide who finishes second behind runaway leaders the All Blacks.


South Africa:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Francois Steyn/Jaco Taute, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie


15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson

Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Anthony Fainga'a


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