South African coach Heyneke Meyer is wary of a Wallabies resurgence in their Rugby Championship clash tomorrow, saying his team are underdogs as they bid to end a losing streak against Australia.
The wobbling Wallabies host the Springboks in Perth and Meyer knows the home side will be desperate to bounce back after being humbled by the all-conquering All Blacks both at home and away last month.
Robbie Deans’ Australia conceded the Bledisloe Cup for the 10th successive year when they were beaten 27-19 in Sydney on Aug. 18 before suffering an embarrassing 22-0 defeat at Auckland’s Eden Park a week later.
The losses have placed an enormous amount of pressure on Deans, but Meyer expects the Wallabies to come out firing, suggesting his own team, who have also had form woes, would start as underdogs.
“I have a lot of respect for Robbie Deans. He’s very astute and a very knowledgeable guy so he’ll know how to handle the pressure and I think the quality of a great coach is to take the pressure off the players,” Meyer said. “I know the psyche of the Australian rugby players. They will definitely come out with all guns blazing. They are a proud team and they have been together for quite some time. There is obviously a lot of pressure on them and we are probably the underdogs.”
Recent form in Tests between the two countries supports Meyer’s stance.
The Springboks, for only the second time in their history, have lost their past four Tests against Australia, with their last win in August 2010 in Pretoria.
In their most recent meeting, the Wallabies won 11-9 in the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup.
“We don’t have a good record against them,” Meyer said. “We have lost four out of four against them, and won one out of seven, which shows how tough it is to play against Australia.”
“Even though New Zealand beat them quite convincingly they are still a quality side,” Meyer said.
Deans dismissed Australia’s recent dominance against South Africa, who are second in the four-nation Rugby Championship with six points, as a factor in the match.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter,” said Deans, whose side have zero points. For the Wallabies, Kurtley Beale is recalled to the starting line-up at fullback and Queensland winger Dominic Shipperley is named for his Test debut.
Beale was relegated to the bench for Eden Park, after an error-riddled performance in Sydney and his recall sees Adam Ashley-Cooper shuffled to outside center.
The Springboks are coming off a disappointing 16-16 draw against Argentina in Mendoza last month.
They, too, have made changes, five in total, with Western Province number eight Duane Vermeulen to make his Test debut tomorrow.
Adriaan Strauss has been included at hooker after coming through a first set of fitness tests, but remains a doubt.