Wallabies want fast start, strong finish

A fast start and a full 80-minute performance are required for the Wallabies to stave off a snarling Springboks side at altitude, captain Michael Hooper says.


Australia have taken pointers from their last Rugby Championship performance and their last outing in South Africa ahead of the clash in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (1am AEST).

The Wallabies faltered in the first half of their match in Canberra two weeks ago and took almost an hour to click into gear before beating Argentina 45-20.

Hooper said they cannot afford to let that happen again, given the Springboks will be seeking to restore their reputations in front of skeptical home fans following their 57-0 humiliation in New Zealand.

But keeping the foot on the pedal is just as important – something the Wallabies didn’t do in Pretoria a year ago.

“We were really disappointed with that performance last year. We allowed the game to get away from us,” Hooper said.

“We felt like we were in control in parts and we were able, at the start of the game, to run in some nice tries and put some pressure on.

“And then just slowly, discipline, mistakes, errors, a lack of urgency allowed them to creep back into the game.”

The Wallabies finalised their preparations with the traditional captain’s run on Friday as Cold Chisel’s classic Khe Sanh rang out across the Free State Stadium.

It was the first time an Australian side had returned to the venue since the famous 2010 victory over the Springboks, decided by a last-gasp Kurtley Beale penalty – the last time the Wallabies won on the Highveld.

“It’s a place we’re all very keen to play and make some of our own history,” Hooper said.

“We know the importance this game has for us going forward as a team and the confidence that can bring.”

Three players will make their maiden Test starts – Izack Rodda, Jack Dempsey and Marika Koroibete – while debutant Lukhan Tui is on the bench and in line to become Wallaby No.914.

“To get these guys genuine minutes – and with the bench we’ve picked, that will happen – there’s plenty of opportunity for these guys to stake a claim,” Hooper said.

Springboks skipper Eben Etzebeth admitted he knew next to nothing about the new faces in the Australian team.

“I’ll find out about them tomorrow. If you get picked for the Wallabies you must be a good player,” he said.