The Wallabies have been dealt a huge blow ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash with the Springboks after David Pocock was ruled out.
Pocock is sidelined with a neck injury and is replaced in the starting line-up by Pete Samu, who will make his first start for Australia.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admitted that Pocock’s absence would be a major setback to the team but had confidence in Samu.
“I’m very disappointed for David and the team, he’s been in outstanding form all year and he’s a big leader,” he told rugby.com.au.
When the Aussies and the Springboks runs onto the park in Brisbane on Saturday they will be two desperate teams trying to get back to winning ways in the third round fo this years Rugby Championship.
The Springboks have won one and lost one. They started well enough in Durban beating the Pumas with a bonus point but failed to repeat it a week later in Argentina.
The positivity of the first week quickly turned against Erasmus and his players with the poor display in the away test against the Pumas. They could not get the same dominance from the Durban test and the backline was unable to adapt to the Argentinians rushed defence.
We can complain as much as we want about the referee that allowed Argentina to play over the offside line but that is test rugby my friend. A good team will be able to adopt to what is on the field no matter the man in the middle or what the opposition throws at you.
Erasmus played it down to inexperience and as much as that could be the case, at this level we expect more from whoever pulls that green jersey over his head.
Erasmus has made major changes to the side that will face the Aussies this weekend and the inclusion of De Allende and Kriel in the midfield stands out.
De Allende comes off an injury and played one match for WP in the Currie Cup which puts a question mark over his fitness. He did play the world on fire when he ran out for Province and the combination between him and Kriel has failed more than it has proven the answer for the Springboks in the midfield.
Elton Jantjies also gets his chance again at ten and for some reason that excite me in a way. We know that Jantjies have the talent but up to now Springboks coaches were not able to spark that talent in the Springbok setup.
Jantjies on song is a much better ten than Pollard, we must face the facts that Pollard has not been the same players after his year off due to injury.
De Klerk and Jantjies have also played plenty of games together and with a team on the backfoot at the moment it is a good idea to have your combinations that knows each-other.
The lose-trio still leaves more questions than answers. Erasmus opted opted to go with Du Toit, Kolisi and Whiteley. The form and ability of Kolisi have been questioned and it was a surprise not to see Van Staaden name in the match 23.
Louw will be the cover from the bench which again leaves a question mark on a proper fetcher in this team. You do not cover a fetcher with a fetcher but the Springboks have not been great in this department.
It feels that Michael Hooper and David Pocock may have a field day on Saturday unless we have some intensity from the team at breakdowns.
Cheika made some bold changes himself for this test dropping Foley to give Kurtley Beale the ten jersey. Israel Folau also recover from his injury and will be back on Saturday. Brumbies lock Rory Arnold will also start in the second row.
There are some rain predicted which could see the teams result to and aerial game.
For the Springboks to win this one they will have to dominate the Aussies upfront and make sure that there set pieces is 100% better than the last test.
The Aussies are no longer a push over in the set pieces and they will focus on disrupting any good ball the Springboks want to get from their set pieces.
Australia at home is not an easy game and with two losses so far we can expect them to come out hard at the Springboks. Erasmus will hope that he gets some x-factor from De Klerk and Le Roux on Saturday to spark the backs.
Prediction: This is maybe not what we want but Aussies by 8.
Australia (revised): 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Cheslin Kolbe