Australia coach Robbie Deans is under no illusions about the magnitude of the task that awaits in Perth but was bullish about his side’s chances of victory.
The Springboks are on a three match unbeaten streak in the Tri-Nations, and have won nine of their last 10 Tests. Victory in Perth would virtually secure the title, and Deans was acutely aware of how big a motivating factor that would be for the Springboks.
‘The Springboks are going to be primed full stop.’ Deans said. ‘They have an opportunity to secure the Tri-Nations, have done the bulk of the work already and will want to finish it off.
‘They are a team that is very keen to add something further to their collection, and that’s evident. They are very well led and have sorted the game that suits them and play to their strengths, but we’ve shown that we are more than capable of competing.’
To grab the bonus point victory that will keep them in the tournament the Wallabies will be hoping that star flyhalf Matt Giteau finds some form. He has been uncharacteristically poor of late, particularly off the boot in general play, but Deans was confident that he would lift his game for the occasion.
‘They have just been skill execution,” Deans said of Giteau’s struggles. ‘So it’s out of the ordinary for him, but it is eminently fixable. And we’re very confident you will not see a kicking game like the last one from Matt.
‘He’s always had a great work ethic, but it’s probably more the thought process which is the key thing. If you get the thought processes right, you bring clarity to your decision-making. And that allows you to concentrate on your execution.’
Giteau accepted that he has been well below par in recent matches, but while he conceded that his plight has been complicated by the injury to inside centre Berrick Barnes, who shared the tactical kicking duties, he was adamant that he would remedy his struggles at the Subiaco Oval.
‘Against the All Blacks [last week], I was charged down a few times, and that had more to do with poor execution,’ Giteau said. ‘So that is something I’ve worked on this week. It’s a crucial part of the game, especially when playing a side like South Africa, who do kick the ball a lot. They try to play that territory game.
‘When losing a guy like Berrick, kicking is an area where I do need to step up a lot. The last two Tests I have certainly not kicked as well as I would have liked. There are little technical things … such as worrying where the ball is actually landing, rather than worrying about the execution of the kick. And they are the little things I’ve tried to work on this week.’