When you type “Australia scrummage” into Google the first link that appears is “Australia scrum in for more pain”, which then goes onto detail the heroics of a certain Andrew Sheridan.
The Wallabies have been branded with a reputation which neither jelly-belly Dunning, nor any of the fresh-faced Wallaby props have been able to shift post-Sheridan. It is therefore no surprise that the Springboks have picked a pack aimed at disrupting the Australian scrum.
We all know the Boks are physical, and they dealt with the All Black props in a way that England can only dream about, and with two props on the bench and CJ Van der Linde and Guthro Steenkamp ready to tenderise Benn Robinson and Al Baxter, the omens do not look good for the men in gold.
Alongside this, the Boks have brought in a more mobile number 8 in Pierre Spies (with an equally mobile Ryan Kankowski on the bench) , and have Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield back to their World Cup-winning form purring in the engine room. My guess on their game plan is: hit them hard up front, tire them out, then make them chase us.
The Aussies have made their own changes as well. The experimental side that Robbie Deans put out against a hapless French side makes way for the experience of Nathan Sharpe, Wycliff Palu (with the tenacious Phil Waugh dropping to the bench ) and Lote Tuquiri. All three players have come back from injury but perhaps lack match fitness.
Deans will nonetheless be looking for a big effort from his players in this his first match against the big guns down under. However, it looks like it could be a long 80 minutes in the Subiaco Oval for the Wallabies.
Australia team: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Berrick Barnes, Lote Tuqiri; Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, James Horwill, Nathan Sharpe, Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Matt Dunning, Hugh McMeniman, Phil Waugh, Sam Cordingley, Ryan Cross, Drew Mitchell.
South Africa team: Conrad Jantjes, JP Pietersen, Francois Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Butch James, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, CJ van der Linde, Schalk Brits, Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira, Brian Mujati, Andries Bekker, Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Pienaar, Peter Grant.
By John White