There are so much more to this test match than just the Rugby Championship when the Springboks host the Wallabies in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Between coach Rassie resting some players for the All Blacks test next week and some injuries to key players I do believe that he has picked his best team with the combinations that works for his game plan.
The Aussies are coming with an experience team and they will be hard to beat on Saturday in the first weekend of test rugby for the year.
From the team sheet we we see immediately that the Boks will have a huge challenge at the breakdown in this test. This may also be a deciding factor in the game.
Although there is no Pocock or Scott Sio in this test side, the Wallabies have the quality of captain Hooper who has been playing great rugby even in a poor Waratahs side this season.
One would have wanted a nippy character playing to the ball and with Elstadt, Du Toit and Louw you have big dudes that will not break any speed records but we can be sure that Rassie have a game plan that will suit this loose trio.
One can expect the Aussie to explode this in the test but for every selection a coach make at this level he will have a game plan that suit his selection, it will be on how good they will execute the game plan.
At the back both sides have some serious speed and if they are able to get the ball out wide we may be in for some great tries on Saturday.
It is also going to be a huge battle in the set pieces and although it is great to see Trevor and Lizo getting a chance, one have to remember they come with not much test level experience.
Bongi will add a lot to the front row and that will count for a lot against an experience Wallaby front row.
The biggest worry for Rassie will be his backline combinations which is firstly new and secondly have not had too many test experience.
Elton will have to play a huge role on Saturday to take charge at the back and to make sure we get our backline going. He has done it well at Super Rugby level with the Lions but have struggled when under pressure at test level.
The Wallabies have some new faces to their test side as well with Isi Naisarani making his debut for his country. On the bench Harry Johnson-Holmes will also get his first cap when he come on the field later in the test.
James Slipper will also make his return to test rugby after 959 days since he last put a Aussie jumper over his head.
Nick White will also cherries the return to the national side after almost four years as he will start with Bernard Foley as the halfback combination.
The Springboks will have to be 100% ready on defence with Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi in the midfield, both brilliant players on attack.
The Aussie have also some key players to come off the bench as does the Boks which will make it interesting to see how the two coaches will use their benches on Saturday.
This test will bring either a lot of answers for both coaches going into the last few test before the World Cup in September or a few more questions.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- South Africa have lost only one of their last five Tests against Australia; though, two of those meetings ended in a draw (W2).
- This will be the 11th meeting between South Africa and Australia at Emirates Airline Park, the Springboks having won nine of the previous 10 clashes at the venue (L1).
- South Africa have won only three of their last 10 games at The Rugby Championship (D2, L5), including a last-start two-point defeat to New Zealand.
- South Africa have won 13 of their last 16 games played at Emirates Airline Park, including their last three on the bounce across which they’ve scored an average of 36 points per game.
- Australia will be looking to secure back-to-back wins at The Rugby Championship for the first time since 2016 after ending their 2018 campaign with a 45-34 win over Argentina.
- Australia’s win rate of 24% when playing in South Africa is their lowest in any nation; indeed, it is the lowest win rate of any of the six nations to have played more than 20 Tests there.
- South Africa have scored 22 drop goals at The Rugby Championship, as many as all three other teams combined (Australia 9, New Zealand 9, Argentina 4).
- Dane Haylett-Petty (Australia) gained 397 metres in The Rugby Championship 2018, the most of any player and 130 more than South Africa’s best, Siya Kolisi (267).
- Willie Le Roux (South Africa) produced the joint-most try assists (5, also New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett) in The Rugby Championship 2018, three more than any Australian player managed.
- Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa) made the most tackles (83) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2018, 33 more than the leading player in Australia’s 2019 squad Michael Hooper (50).
Prediction: The Aussies have a strong side and should be able to win this one, but for some reason we are still thinking that even this side will upset Cheika side, Springboks by 8
Springboks: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks , 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beal
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