Butch James believes a comprehensive team effort from the Springboks will be needed to neutralise his opposite number, Matt Giteau, on Saturday.
The Wallabies lost their experienced halfback combination of George Gregan and Stephen Larkham after the World Cup due to retirement, with Giteau and rookie scrumhalf Luke Burgess taking over the respective roles.
The duo played for the first time together in the opening Test of the year against Ireland, and started in the following couple of matches against France. Burgess’s quick and clean service from the breakdown has ensured Giteau capitalised on the time and space afforded to him, where he set up three of Australia’s four tries in the second Test against the French.
But if the Boks can slow down the Wallabies’ ball at the breakdown and harass the halfback pair, this will disrupt the entire Australian game plan. The Irish repeatedly managed to catch Burgess in possession in the second half as the Aussies didn’t commit enough numbers to the breakdown. For the first and only time this season Giteau had no quality ball to work with, and hence the team suffered – struggling to an unconvincing 18-12 win.
The Springboks managed to keep Dan Carter relatively quiet in general play last week, forcing him to have less of an impact than is accustomed with the Crusaders pivot. Ricky Januarie’s pressure was influential in this aspect, and James acknowledged a similar recipe will be needed from the Boks if they are to shut the Aussie playmaker down.
“You have to use your team-mates around you to help – it’s really difficult,” James told the media.
“He’s [Giteau] a really good player and a tough little guy. You’ve really got to keep your eye on him all the time on attack and in defence he holds his own really well.
“He just knows when to have a go and when to let the ball go, so he can spot a weakness in defence. He knows when to take a break, he knows when to kick and his decision-making is right up there.
“It’s always good to judge yourself against the best and I think him and Carter are the best,” James said.
James came in for some criticism for his rough treatment of Carter in the Wellington Test, being penalised for one tackle and getting away with a number of 50/50 calls. James realises, however, the physicality of the Boks must be used as a weapon.
“I think it’s part of our game to always be physical and it always has been the South African game plan,” he said.
“The Australian pack are pretty physical themselves so I’m pretty glad I’m not in the forwards this weekend.”