Captain James Slipper said on Friday it was crucial for the Wallabies to put South Africa on “early” if they are to maintain their nine-year unbeaten streak against the world champions on home soil.
Getting off to a flying start has not been Australia’s strong suit this season against England and then Argentina, where they have been constantly chasing after the game.
It’s a problem Slipper, a veteran of 119 Tests, wants to address at the Adelaide Ring on Saturday, where the Wallabies are defending an unbeaten record at home to the Springboks spanning seven Tests dating back to 2013.
“Preparation is key in a Test match and I think of the five Tests we’ve played so far this year, we’ve lost the first 25 minutes of every game,” said the prop, who again replaces regular captain Michael. Hooper as he takes mental health leave.
“So (the start of the game) definitely came up. Hopefully we can put the Springboks in some heat early on. It’s about creating opportunities and taking them.
“We created a lot of things, but we probably didn’t have time to grab them or we didn’t take the points offered, so for us in training we focused on grabbing of these opportunities,” he added.
Australia are looking to bounce back from a 48-17 Rugby Championship defeat by Argentina a fortnight ago, a week after beating them 41-26.
These matches were marred not only by Hooper’s withdrawal on the eve of the first Test, but also by several top players missing through injury or personal reasons.
The likes of experienced winger Allan Alaalatoa and hooker Folau Fainga’a return to start against South Africa, while dangerous winger Andrew Kellaway is back on the bench.
Slipper said the Argentina tour was “one of the toughest I’ve been on”, but the team was confident of getting back to winning ways.
“We had a lot of guys who dropped out of the team after it was nominated (for Argentina)…so there was quite a bit of adversity there, but because of adversity you become harder and that’s where I pushed the team,” he said. told reporters.
“As far as this preparation goes, it was brilliant. We worked hard and we go into the game with confidence, that’s all I can ask of the boys to make sure the shirt is proud.”
The last time the Springboks won against the Wallabies in Australia was a 38-12 victory in Brisbane nine years ago.
Four players on tour participated in this match: Eben Etzebeth, skipper Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux. All but Le Roux will leave on Saturday.
Versatile full-back Frans Steyn, a 74 Test veteran who is on the bench, said he couldn’t understand why South Africa struggled so much in Australia.
“I personally thought we were struggling a bit more here than in New Zealand during the Super Rugby days as well, but I don’t know what the reason was,” he said.
“Fortunately, we have the opportunity to do something special here this weekend, and hopefully we can achieve that. It would definitely be a great achievement for the team, especially since it doesn’t is not produced often.”