Matt Giteau believes Australia are well equipped to beat the rampant Springboks.
The Springboks have won eight of their last nine Tests and come into Saturday’s match against the Wallabies at Newlands as favourites after disposing of New Zealand twice in a fortnight.
The Wallabies were the better side for most of the Tri-Nations opener against the All Blacks in Auckland three weeks ago, but fell away badly in the final quarter, allowing the Blacks to snatch victory.
Giteau, however, says they’ve learnt from the errors they made in that match, and believes they can bag valuable points in the Republic.
‘We certainly feel we can beat the South Africans. This is my eighth season with the Wallabies and I’d rate this as probably the best-prepared team in years. There’s a lot of talent and self-belief here,’ he said.
‘They’ve developed a strong side over the last 12 months, but so have we. Physically, we need to be up to the challenge, and I think we are. They’re the best team in the world at the moment and we respect that. But we’re not scared. If we can execute better than we did in New Zealand and can match them at the breakdown, we’re a great chance.’
Giteau did, however, temper his confidence with perspective.
‘There’s a tremendous amount of self-belief but at the same time we’re not over confident. We believe in our own abilities and we are starting to get more familiar with how we want to play as a side and how Robbie [coach Robbie Deans] encourages us to play.
‘But we’re under no false illusions – we know South Africa are going to be tough. They’re No.1 in the world for a reason.’
The Springboks are unlikely to veer to far from the kick-chase approach that was so successful against the Blacks, and the Wallaby pivot identified accurate tactical kicking as the key to success.
‘The kicking game is an area where we definitely have to dominate if we’re going to beat South Africa,’ he said.
‘I think when we last beat South Africa in Durban, that was off the back of a good kicking game. We were able to put pressure on them inside their 22 and turn that pressure into points. Whereas the next week the kicking game wasn’t as good and we were punished for it.
‘I think that goes to show the importance of a good kicking game and how even a slight difference can have a massive effect on the result. Just the small things like getting good kicks away and applying the pressure changes a game.
‘We need to be able to keep them in their own half. Execution is key. And if you don’t execute well, like in New Zealand, you pay for it in the back end of the game.’