Wallabies prop Benn Robinson doesn’t believe he holds the mental ascendancy over John Smit after out-scrumming him during the Super 14.
Throughout his shift to tighthead Smit has generally coped well with any assault laid on him from the opposing loosehead. One notable exception being when the Sharks’ hosted the Waratahs at King’s Park. On as a replacement, Smit was shunted back by Robinson, which was greeted by much back-slapping and high-fives from his Tahs’ team-mates.
Despite that being the last and only occasion the pair have fronted, Robinson believes each scrum holds a different challenge. The Australian also realises Smit will be boosted by Bakkies Botha and Juan Smith, who will add their bulk in the set-piece.
‘That [Super 14] match definitely won’t have an impact,’ Robinson told keo.co.za. ‘You’ve got to treat each scrum in its own right. John is the most capped Test captain ever and has loads of experience. He is a big man with the potential to do damage.
‘I’ve watched the last two weeks closely to see if there’s anything I can pick up. He did really well against the All Blacks.’
Robinson and lock Nathan Sharpe both refuted claims by Peter de Villiers that the Wallabies intentionally drop the scrum when ever pressure is exerted at scrum-time.
‘No one in the world goes into a match with that tactic,’ said Sharpe. ‘It would be a hit and miss approach as the ref could interpret it in a different way. The scrum was an area we were heavily penalised against the All Blacks so we’ll have to get it right.’
‘People have different opinions,’ said Robinson. ‘We focus on what we’re doing and we can’t control others’ thoughts. There are always a few contentious issues.’
The theme of the Wallaby scrum being disregarded before Tests in South Africa has been continually applied in recent years, but Robinson believes that should change. Australia’s last showing against England in November should be a reminder of their improvement.
‘If you just look at past performances there has been a change in that perception. It’s been coming for a while, but you’re only as good as your last scrum.’
Robinson said there has been an intensity at training that has left players wearing wounds.
‘The size and sheer mentality of the Boks is great and I’m really excited to face them. We’ve made a step-up in training and there’s been some real aggression at the rucks. Phil Waugh was left with a cut on his head at Tuesday’s training.’
By Grant Ball, in Cape Town