Wallabies hope for improved showing vs Springboks in Perth

Associated Press

9/6/2012 9:52:46 PM

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, including a 22-0 defeat two weeks ago in Auckland which ensured Australia would lose the Bledisloe Cup for a 10th consecutive series. That also resulted in renewed speculation about New Zealander 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."

Alexander said the Wallabies have been taught some difficult lessons by the All Blacks this season but are determined to give Australian supporters a revitalized performance against the Springboks.

"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, no doubt helped by the large South African expatriate community in the Western Australian state capital and the closer proximity to home.

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

Genia was shut down by the All Blacks in Australia's loss at Eden Park and was yellow-carded in the first half for an uncharacteristic moment of ill-discipline. In the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, Genia's dangerous running game was also well contained by the All Blacks.

Pienaar has been recalled to the Springboks starting lineup for the first time in 2012, pushing Francois Hougaard to the wing.

"Will's probably the most important guy in the Australian side so it's a big challenge for me, but I think 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."

Raising the stakes for the Perth test is the fact South Africa only salvaged a 16-16 draw at Argentina with a charge-down try after winning the opening match at home.

"I think 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 its ends its losing streak against the Wallabies on Saturday.

On Thursday, hooker Stephen Moore was ruled out of Australia's starting lineup with a right hamstring injury. Moore, who had been set to surpass Jeremy Paul as Australia's most capped hooker by appearing in his 73rd test, was withdrawn from the starting side after sustaining a low-grade hamstring strain in practice.

Moore was replaced in the starting XV by Tatafu Polota Nau, who had previously been listed on the bench. Queensland Reds hooker Saia Fainga'a, who appeared off the bench in Australia's most recent test in Auckland after Polota Nau was ruled out, is back in the reserves.

In earlier team changes, Kurtley Beale was recalled and flying Queensland Reds winger Dom Shipperley was selected for his debut in a reshuffled Australia backline. Beale was dropped after the series-opening loss to New Zealand after making a rash of errors in Sydney, 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.

In the forwards, 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.

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 Hogaard 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.