Wallabies look for improvement against Springboks

Associated Press
9/7/2012 9:16:47 AM
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PERTH, Australia -- Australia prop Ben Alexander says the Wallabies are feeling Robbie Deans' pain. And they are hoping to help improve their coach's job security with a win in Saturday's Rugby Championship match against South Africa.

The Wallabies are in last place in the four-nation tournament after consecutive losses to World Cup champion New Zealand, prompting speculation about Deans' future as coach.

"That criticism of Robbie, it hurts us too because it's how we played and a reflection of us and how we represented our country, and we didn't do a great job," Alexander said. "We feel a responsibility."

"We got stood up by the best side in the world and we've copped that on the chin and we've looked back and they exposed us everywhere," Alexander told Australian Associated Press. "Now we get a chance to right those wrongs."

Australia has won its past four matches against the Springboks, including the narrow 11-9 result in the World Cup quarterfinals last October in New Zealand.

But the visitors have a 3-2 advantage with one draw from their six games against the Wallabies in Perth, helped partly by the large South African expatriate community in the Western Australian state capital and the closer proximity to home.

"It's always good to have the odd supporter in your favour," South Africa captain Jean de Villiers said Friday.

"It definitely makes the jet lag and all of that a bit easier in that it's a shorter flight, the time difference isn't that much and you're able to adapt a bit quicker. We have had success in the past so surely that must count for a little bit."

Springboks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar says he's wary of frustrated Wallabies captain Will Genia.

Wallabies captain Will Genia was shut down in both losses to New Zealand, and Springboks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar -- recalled to the strating lineup for the first time this year -- recognized stopping him again will be vital to the visitors' chances.

"Will's probably the most important guy in the Australian side so it's a big challenge for me, but that's why you play rugby, to play against the best guys and hopefully I can do a proper job," Pienaar said. "For me he's probably the best (No.) 9 in world rugby for a couple of seasons now and he's a player who can create something out of nothing."

South Africa only salvaged a 16-16 draw at Argentina with a charge-down try after winning the opening match at home.

"The whole Australian team will be keen to do well and we didn't get what we wanted out of those two Argentina games ... so it's going to be an interesting game and a tough game," Pienaar said.

South Africa will assume Australia's No. 2 world ranking if it wins on Saturday.

Hooker Stephen Moore has been ruled out of Australia's starting lineup after straining a hamstring in training on Thursday, meaning he must wait to surpass Jeremy Paul as Australia's most capped hooker with 73 tests.

Kurtley Beale was recalled and flying Queensland Reds winger Dom Shipperley was selected for his debut in a reshuffled Australia backline. Beale had been dropped after making a rash of errors in the tournament opener, but went on as a replacement in the Auckland loss.

His return at fullback pushes Adam Ashley-Cooper to outside centre, replacing Rob Horne, while Shipperley slots onto the wing as a replacement for the injured Drew Mitchell.

Radike Samo was named at No. 8 to start a test for the first time this season at the expense of Scott Higginbotham, who was dropped to the bench.

Deans said he wants oft-criticized No. 10 Quade Cooper to assume more personal responsibility for the team.

"To get the benefit of Quade's unique skill set we've got to create some momentum to bring him into the game and he's part of that as well," Deans said at the Wallabies' captain's run. "He needs to step forward and be prepared to take the ball to the line. Quade will be better. He can't help but be better, as will the group."

For South Africa, Duane Vermeulen will make his test debut at No. 8 in one of five changes after its draw against Argentina. Two of South Africa's five changes were positional, with Hougaard moving from scrumhalf to left wing and Willem Alberts switching to flanker to accommodate Vermeulen.



Australia: Kurtley Beale, Dom Shipperley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (captain); Radike Samo, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Mike Harris, Anthony Faingaa.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo

Kurtley Beale (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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