Saturday September 8, 2012
Wallabies skipper: Let’s focus on Springboks
PERTH: Wallabies captain Will Genia admits his injury-hit team are disappointed with their Rugby Championship form and said they can ill afford another defeat against South Africa today.
The Australians are desperate to bounce back after being humbled by the all-conquering All Blacks both at home and away last month, seeing the Bledisloe Cup stay in New Zealand hands for the 10th successive year.
Their cause against the Springboks, who are coming off a disappointing 16-16 draw against Argentina in Mendoza, hasn’t been helped with veteran hooker Stephen Moore ruled out of the Perth clash with a hamstring strain.
Moore was hoping to become the most capped hooker in Australian Test history but was forced to withdraw from the must-win match after scans revealed the problem, with NSW Waratah Tatafu Polota Nau steeping up to replace him.
The All Blacks losses have placed an enormous amount of pressure on coach Robbie Deans, who is already missing a host of high-profile players through injury, including David Pocock, James Horwill and James O’Connor.
But Genia was not ready to blame the injury crisis for their opening two defeats.
“You’ve got blokes coming in who can do as good a job as those who are missing,” he said.
“Pocock is obviously world class and so is Stephen but you’ve got Taf (Polota-Nau) coming in who brings a very physical edge to the game.
“And I think Michael Hooper made 30 odd tackles last week as well so you get work rate from those blokes and effort.”
Genia, the stand-in captain with Pocock out, said they needed to start transferring what they did on the training ground to the pitch.
“It’s been a great feeling amongst the group, the last few weeks have been very disappointing in terms of the result and we said in the build up to those weeks that we prepared well and trained well but didn’t put the performance on the park,” he said.
“That’s very much something we’re looking forward to doing is transitioning what we do on the training paddock onto the field and that’s the big challenge for us tomorrow and hopefully we can do it.”
Recent form in Tests between the two countries supports an Australian win.
The Springboks, for only the second time in their history, have lost their past four Tests against the Wallabies, with their last win in August 2010 in Pretoria.
In their most recent meeting, Australia won 11-9 in the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup.
Deans is under mounting pressure to swiftly turn around Australia’s fortunes or face the sack, but prop Ben Alexander insisted speculation about the coach’s job was not affecting the team.
“That criticism of Robbie, it hurts us too because it’s how we played and a reflection of us and how we represented our country, and we didn’t do a great job,” he said.
“We feel a responsibility for the side not performing ... (but) as far as all that speculation goes, it’s not a focus of ours.
“Our focus is just going out, playing well and representing our country with pride.” — AFP