Rugby Championship

Smith: Wallabies will have learnt altitude lesson

2017-09-27 19:02
Franco Smith (Gallo Images)

Bloemfontein - Australia's record against the Springboks on the highveld is woeful, with just one win in the last 54 years. 

That victory came in Bloemfontein in 2010 when a Kurtley Beale penalty after the hooter secured a famous win, but other than that there has been nothing for the Wallabies to celebrate when playing at altitude in South Africa. 

Australian coach Michael Cheika spoke in the build-up to Saturday's clash against the Boks - also in Bloem - about the altitude factor possibly being more a mental issue than anything else for the Wallabies, but the stats suggest it is about more than that. 

Still, Springbok backline coach Franco Smith believes the Wallabies will have learnt from years past and he is expecting them to be far more prepared to deal with the thin air. 

"I’m sure that the height above sea level plays a factor," Smith acknowledged when asked about Australia's poor record in Bloemfontein, Pretoria and Johannesburg. 

"But we’re not going to look at the past to win this one. We’re going to control the things we can control.

"They must have learnt their lessons having come to play us on the highveld.

"We expect that they will address the fact that they haven’t won here for a while."

Smith reckons the Wallabies will look to start strong and then hold out against the Boks.

"They might manage their intensity a bit better," he said.

"But, knowing them, they will try and score as many points as early as possible and then ask us to catch up."

For that reason, Smith believes the Boks will have to "put their stamp" on the game from the start. 

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00 and both teams will be named on Thursday.


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