Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer says the Wallabies’ “one bad game” against New Zealand doesn’t make them a bad team and has called up two of South Africa’s most trusted veterans to nullify a Perth ambush.
Springboks champions Victor Matfield and Morne Steyn are two of six starting changes to take on Australia in the Rugby Championship at Patersons Stadium this Saturday.
Matfield, who made his Test comeback earlier this year after retiring at the conclusion of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, will start at lock in place of Lood de Jager, while flanker Marcell Coetzee comes in for Juan Smith.
It will be Matfield’s first game against the Wallabies since they booted South Africa out of the World Cup in dramatic and controversial circumstances.
Joining him in the pack will be hooker Adriaan Strauss, with Bismarck du Plessis being given a rest on the bench following the Boks’ two narrow wins over Argentina, while Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira will pack down at prop in place of Guthro Steenkamp.
Boks coach Meyer has also bolstered his backs to brace for what he describes as a “brilliant” Wallabies backline, with veteran five-eighth Morne Steyn replacing young gun Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein in at outside centre for Damian de Allende.
While Australia enter the match on the back of a 51-20 thumping at the hands of the All Blacks, Meyer has no doubts the Australians will be hungry to bounce back.
“I truly believe they have a quality, quality side,” he said.
“In the wet they played some great rugby where they drew (with the All Blacks).
“And even the game they lost, I know they lost on the scoreboard, quite considerably, but they showed some brilliant touches and played some great rugby.”
He added that before the All Blacks thrashed the Wallabies they hadn’t lost a Test in eight matches.
“They’ve always had brilliant backs but now their forwards are coming to the party as well,” Meyer said. said.
“I know they had one bad game but that doesn’t make them a bad team. They’ll definitely be up for it.”
Springboks: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (c), Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (vc), Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Res: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Lood de Jager, Warren Whiteley, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Damien de Allande.