The Springboks will look to add to their solitary victory in The Rugby Championship so far, kicking off two straight home matches with the Wallabies arriving in the Republic for the first of two tour matches before heading to Argentina for their final match.
The South African hosts and new coach Heyneke Meyer have been under pressure, with feeling that the Bulls blueprint that won Meyer a Super Rugby competition and the Springboks power game that has served the side well for generations aren’t yielding the desired results.
On home soil such results will be doubly expected, although there would have been minor satisfaction that they managed to rattle the All Blacks up front in Round Four in Dunedin despite losing 11-21 – while earlier this week Springboks technical director Rassie Erasmus said there would be more strings to the team’s physical bow on home soil.
The Wallabies approach the test in high spirits, winning two tough tests on home soil – beating the Springboks 26-19 in Perth, before surviving a Pumas examination to win 23-19 in the first test on the Gold Coast.
Back-to-back losses to the All Blacks may not have been the ideal start to The Rugby Championship for the Wallabies, but they are now in a position (should the World Champions lose in La Plata to Argentina) to compete for the title, while their record against the Springboks has been brilliant in recent years.
The Wallabies will look to record another rare win in the Highveld this weekend, breaking a 47-year losing drought in Bloemfontein in 2010 with a 41-39 win, while the visitors have won seven of the last eight matches against the Springboks.
The consolation for the hosts is that they are unbeaten at Loftus Versfeld against the Wallabies.
If the Springboks are able to bring their heavy artillery power game to the field, one would suspect in front of nearly 52,000 fans the Wallabies may not be able to resist up front, especially considering the absence of players like David Pocock and James Horwill.
Indeed, the Wallabies have the worst injury toll of any team in The Rugby Championship, and calls for the team to rediscover the Australian running game will be compromised by the absence of Quade Cooper and James O’Connor – the latter a key figure in the win two years ago.
The Springboks, despite having over two-thirds of experience out wide, would be happy with how a young pack has stood up this season without the likes of Victor Matfield, John Smit and Bakkies Botha (overseas/retirement) and Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Bismarck du Plessis (injuries).
But like their opponents this weekend, question marks linger over their backline, with Morne Steyn feeling the heat from the next generation like Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie in the playmakers seat.
Goosen will start his first Test for the Springboks when he runs out at flyhalf, one of three changes to the starting XV from the Springbok team that played New Zealand in Dunedin.
Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker are reunited in what looks to be the Springboks first choice second row, with the former returning from suspension and the latter swapping places with Flip van der Merwe in the run on team.
Six players in the match-22 that are 21 years old or younger – Goosen, Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute – while there are combined total of 468 Test caps, with 314 of those belonging to the backs and 154 to the forwards.
The Wallabies have named Kurtley Beale to run the backline, with the usual fullback shifted closer to the action, with flyhalf a position he played at regularly during his time with St Josephs in Sydney and in his early days with the Waratahs.
Nathan Sharpe continues to captain the team, leading his country for the fourth time, while he joins former Wallabies openside George Smith as the most capped forward in the green and gold, playing his 110th test, while up front Benn Robinson becomes the third Australian prop to reach his half century of international appearances.
29 September 2012
Springboks v Wallabies
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick off (1700 local, 1500 GMT, Sun 30 Sep 0400 NZT, Sun 30 Sep 0100 NSW/ACT, 1200 ARG)
Referee: A. Rolland (IRFU)
AR: R. Poite (FFR)
AR: G. Garner (RFU)
TMO: S. Veldsman (SARU)
HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 75: South Africa 41, Australia 33, Drawn 1
Last match: South Africa 19 - 26 Australia @ Paterson's Stadium, Perth
South Africa record at Loftus Versfeld: Played 30, Won 22, Lost 8
South Africa record at home: Played 219, Won 150, Lost 56, Drawn 13
Australia record at Loftus Versfeld: Played 5, Won 0, Lost 5
Australia record away from home: Played 247, Won 108, Lost 133, Drawn 6
Point’s aggregate: South Africa 1404, Australia 1329 (19-18)
Tries aggregate: South Africa 166, Australia 137 (2-2)
15 September, 2012: South Africa 11 - 21 New Zealand (4th round of The Rugby Championship)
8 September, 2012: South Africa 19 – 26 Australia (3rd round of The Rugby Championship)
25 August, 2012: South Africa 16 – 16 Argentina (2nd round of The Rugby Championship)
18 August, 2012: South Africa 27 – 6 Argentina (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: South Africa 14 – 14 England (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: South Africa 36 – 27 England (2nd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: South Africa 22 – 17 England (1st test June tour)
15 September. 2012: Australia 23 - 19 Argentina (4th round of The Rugby Championship)
8 September, 2012: Australia 26 – 19 South Africa (3rd round of The Rugby Championship)
25 August, 2012: Australia 0 – 22 New Zealand (2nd round of The Rugby Championship)
18 August, 2012: Australia 19 – 27 New Zealand (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: Australia 20 – 19 Wales (4rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: Australia 25 – 23 Wales (3rd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: Australia 27 – 19 Wales (2nd test June tour)
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn/Jaco Taute, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Anthony Fainga'a.