How the Springboks plan on shutting down Quade Cooper
Cooper is the bold selection after four years in the test wilderness, the playmaker’s return creating some buzz around a side soundly beaten in their three previous tests against New Zealand.
With Kerevi, himself back in the fray after a two-year absence, in the centres the Springboks know Dave Rennie’s side will look to win the game with ball in hand at Cbus Super Stadium.
“On a good day they will punish any team when you’ve got guys like Kerevi and Quade who’s very experienced, and guys like (Marika) Koroibete, with time and space they’ll punish you,” South Africa assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said.
“Quade’s a world-class player; we’re going to have to make sure we don’t give him time and space to make decisions.”
It will be their first meeting since South Africa won the 2019 World Cup, the Springboks beating the British and Irish Lions (2-1) and Argentina (2-0) before arriving in Australia.
They’ll need that confidence to offset a horror record on Australian soil though, unbeaten at home since 2011 but with just four wins and two draws from their last 29 tests in the country dating back to 1993.
It’s a record captain Siya Kolisi can’t explain, other than to offer that “they’ve got a great record against everyone in Australia”.
They couldn’t arrive with more confidence though, and have picked a full-strength squad aside from winger Cheslin Kolbe (leg).
Halfback Faf de Klerk is back from injury, so too is No 8 Duane Vermeulen in his first game since the World Cup win.
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) September 11, 2021
Seven changes to the starting side and 13 in total, including a 6-2 bench stacked with backrowers, show they mean business.
“We wouldn’t want it any other way,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said of backing up a Bledisloe Cup with games against the world champions.
“They’ve developed their game, in terms of how they use the ball outstanding defence, the pressure they apply (since 2019).
“It’s super exciting you get to play them; 18 months ago I never thought the rugby world would be looking like it does … we’re thankful they made the journey.”
– Murray Wenzel
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