Keo.co.za has the Boks on a downer in Brisbane. Call this Vodacom Tri Nations opener correctly and you can win a year’s subscription to SA Rugby Magazine.
Earlier in the week we wrote that the Boks would not have the all-round game to beat the Wallabies in Brisbane. Nothing has changed and we’re calling it for the Wallabies by 10 to 15 points. It is consistent with what they’ve done to us in Brisbane in recent times.
All the boasting within the Bok camp has been centred on the pack; the very same pack that got munched by the fiery Frogs in Cape Town. Too much focus has gone on the inexperienced Australian props and the Boks will realise there is more to test match rugby than scrumming two inexperienced front rowers in nine scrums every fourty minutes.
Jake White has gambled by not selecting an openside specialist and again we will see the enormous impact a player like Schalk Burger makes in these type of test matches. Burger’s intensity cannot be replaced because none in the loose-trio provides that kind of intensity. Ricky Januarie needs a monster game; one to match the size of his frame when he arrived at national duty. It was appalling that an international player should report for duty so overweight and out of shape. He now has a chance for redemption, but he is up against the most experienced test player in the history of the game in George Gregan.
The Wallabies captain has reached that stage of his career that no matter what he does he gets criticised, but his play this season has been better than good. Expect him to cause the Boks some trouble and also expect Stephen Larkham to be the architect of a few problems.
The Wallabies definitely have the edge in the backs, on the ground in the chase for the loose-ball and in the lineouts they’ve got a good enough shape to get some quality ball.
South Africa’s front row is stronger and Victor Matfield is world class. That’s where it ends and all the talk of Bok forward power will prove to be just talk.
White also knows that another defeat will add another nail to a coffin that is being prepared for him by the President’s Council, who have long since turned their attentions to White’s successor. The Bok coach has become too influential and too powerful within SA Rugby, just like Nick Mallett did in 2000. Back then it did not matter what results Mallett achieved. The administration wanted him out and they removed him. White is in a similar position. He has become the enemy of his own employers and they are comfortable to see him depart.
In the recent President Council meeting not one of the provincial presidents was supportive of White. None were in favour of a contract extension and the relationship will not be improved. It is a sorry state of affairs when the national coach is fighting an internal battle on par with anything his team will front in the away leg of the Tri Nations.
Locally, the Province Absa Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs should be a cracker, but Free State will prove too rounded for the Watson-inspired WP revival.
The Cheetahs, who have lost just once in their last seven Currie Cup matches against WP, will win by seven to 10.
And in Brisbane the Wallabies will win by 10 to 15.
Score in Brisbane
Wallabies 29 Boks 15