The Wallabies are counting on 130 kilogram beast Rodney Blake to neutralize any potential Springbok forward advantage in Saturday’s Vodacom Tri Nations test.
Blake made his test debut against England but has been out of action since because of an ankle injury. He is expected to return to the Wallabies front row in his first home ground international. Blake plays for the Queensland Reds.
The Springbok coaching staff wasted no time in telling the Australian media that the scrum would be an area to target and one in which they believed they would get an advantage.
But the Wallabies have dismissed the talk of the visitors, with veteran hooker Jeremy Paul telling the Boks to bring it on.
Paul, Blake and Al Baxter could potentially start the test, which would mean an entirely different front row would face the Boks to the one demolished in Christchurch.
Connolly, a man with enormous respect for the talents of South African rugby players, told the media that the Boks would still field a very good side, despite injuries to key players. But Connolly was equally frank in believing he could field a pack capable of holding its own against the Boks.
“The Springboks are probably a step up from the All Blacks in terms of physicality, but they don’t have quite the skill of the All Blacks or the nous,” said Connolly. “But I think the All Blacks scrum, when (Carl) Hayman’s there, is probably the best in the world. I don’t think it’s a step up at all (facing the Boks).”
Paul said the Wallabies would be prepared for the Boks physical challenge.
“They’re a big side and again our set pieces will be under pressure. They’ll obviously have looked at the (Christchurch) game and try and target us in the scrum. But I think we’ll go okay this weekend.”
Jake White has said the message would be to dominate in the scrums, but the truth is that with Eddie Andrews at tighthead and Solly Tyibilika likely to scrum down on the tighthead side, the Boks don’t pose as big a threat as some may believe.