Johannesburg - Australia flank Michael Hooper believes the
Wallabies can end a Pretoria jinx on Saturday by winning there for the first
time and inflicting further Rugby Championship misery on South Africa.
The teams enter the round 5 match having experienced
contrasting fortunes lately with Australia seeking a third straight win and the
Springboks desperate to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.
South Africa believed they should have won in Brisbane last
month instead of throwing away an early 11-pont lead in a 23-17 defeat that was
followed by a hammering from New Zealand.
While the Springboks fell apart in the second half to lose
41-13 in Christchurch, Australia scored three tries in the opening 12 minutes en
route to a 36-20 triumph.
With the All Blacks winning the championship after round 4
thanks to an unassailable 11-point lead, pride and second place are at stake
when South Africa and Australia clash.
Australia have lost all six previous Tests at the 50
000-seat Loftus Versfeld stadium in a leafy Pretoria suburb, including a 61-22
drubbing 19 years ago.
But 58-cap loose forward Hooper told reporters that he is
convinced hours of hard work on the training grounds is about to pay off.
"You can sense the will to win within the camp,"
he said. "These guys are desperate to succeed in Pretoria and I am
convinced that they are going to do so this weekend.
"We are not underestimating the Springboks for one
minute. They are hurting after three consecutive losses and that means we must
be extra careful. "
Australia skills coach Michael Byrne agreed that dismissing
South Africa after away losses to Argentina, Australia and New Zealand would be
"A desperate Springbok team is a dangerous Springbok
team. They are hurting, just like we were recently after six consecutive
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has reacted predictably to
the recent change of fortune, making only one injury-enforced change to the
team that overcame Argentina.
Sean McMahon makes his first start at No 8 since a June loss
to England in place of David Pocock, who broke his hand in the triumph over the
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee, who has lost four of
seven Tests since succeeding Heyneke Meyer this year, warned that there would
be "consequences" after the heavy beating by New Zealand.
But he resisted calls from the public and media to make
wholesale changes, keeping faith with 12 Christchurch starters.
Repeated underwhelming performances by flyhalf Elton
Jantjies and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk have seen them axed from the match day 23.
Veteran Morne Steyn replaces Jantjies, who has been unable
to replicate the form that helped the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions reach the
Super Rugby final this year.
Scrumhalf Rudy Paige will start a Test for the first time,
fittingly in the stadium where he plays provincial rugby for the Bulls.
Patrick Lambie, fit after a long recovery from concussion,
takes over at fullback from uninspiring Johan Goosen, billed by Coetzee as the
South African answer to New Zealand star Beauden Barrett.
"Australia will be determined to build on their two
recent victories and pose difficult tactical and technical questions for
us," warned the Springboks coach.
"Continuity is important and that is why we restricted
the starting line-up changes to three."
Pat Lambie, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11
Francois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7
Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3
Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood
de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane
Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10
Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean
Mumm, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore
(captain), 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes (from): 16 James Hanson, 17
James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21
Lopeti Timani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani, 24 Sefa Naivalu