Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Springbok B-team hopes to spring a surprise in Sydney

AFP, SYDNEY, Australia

A Springbok side missing its top stars will seek to embarrass a weakened Wallabies outfit and end taunts that South Africa sent a B-side to Australia in tomorrow's Tri-Nations clash in Sydney.

The Springboks have revelled in their underdog status and insist the pressure is all on Australia for what could be a bruising encounter at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

Coach Jake White believes game-breaking Wallaby winger Lote Tuqiri's shock suspension for an alcohol infringement this week has exposed a chink in Australia's armour that his side can exploit.

"He's a very special player and a huge loss to the team," White said this week. "Tuqiri is very important to the Wallabies. I'm sure they will miss him at the weekend."

"If you do an analysis of Tuqiri in terms of ball in hand and his defensive work, he is a very special player. He's one of the best in the world," White said.

South Africa have retained only two players from the starting line-up that beat Australia 22-19 in Cape Town last month after adopting a controversial policy to protect its top-line players ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup.

The decision to rest more than 20 players has sparked outrage Down Under, with the Australian Rugby Union labeling it a betrayal and some commentators even calling for South Africa to be kicked out of the Tri-Nations tournament.

Springboks captain and No. 8 Bob Skinstad, who is making his international comeback this year after retiring four years ago, said the B-team jibes had fired up the touring South Africans.

"You shouldn't need any motivation, but it certainly helps," Skinstad said.

South Africa will also be hoping the Wallabies have not yet fully recovered from last week's epic 20-15 win over New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Australia will be eager to give veterans Stephen Larkham and George Gregan a winning send-off in their last home Test, which will also mark Larkham's 100th cap.

The pair have more international caps between them (231) than the entire Springbok starting XV (229).

Australia called up winger Mark Gerrard to replace Tuqiri, with injuries allowing in debutant Stephen Hoiles at No. 8 for Wycliff Palu (shoulder) and prop Adam Freier for Stephen Moore (sternum).

Wallabies forwards coach Michael Foley said he expected an aggressive, physical game from Springbok players desperate to place themselves in the running for a World Cup berth.

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