Australia set for tough Rubgy Championship opener against South Africa
Israel Folau insists Australia must not be distracted by World Cup and must keep their attention on winning The Rugby Championship, starting with South Africa this Saturday.
The game takes place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, a ground where success has been hard to come by for the Springboks.
However, when South Africa and Australia last met on September 27, 2014 at Newlands in Cape Town, the Boks won 28-10.
So following a disappointing Rugby Championship last year where the Wallabies finished nine points behind the Springboks’, Folau admitted Australia must now step up and perform this year ahead of the World Cup in two months time.
“We have to look after these games beforehand, we still have a lot at hand to look after starting with this weekend,” said Folau when speaking to Sky Sports.
As a result of new selection criteria Australia will welcome back veteran Matt Giteau, who features for Wallabies for the first time in four years whenfamously dropped ahead of the 2011 World Cup by Australia’s coach at the time, Robbie Deans.
Queensland Reds pair Quade Cooper and Will Genia are in as the half-back pairing for the first time for Australia since November 2013, while hooker Stephen Moore will lead out the Aussie’s for the first time as Captain after being selected to lead their charge at the World Cup.
Back-rower Schalk Burger is the only change in South Africa’s starting side, getting a surprise start at No 8 after an impressive display in the Springboks’ rout of a second-rate World XV last weekend.
The Bulls Jesse Kriel will be making his Springbok debut and will become Springbok #867. However, the majority of the South African side is full of experience, with the starting team boasting a total of 767 Test caps.
Bok’s have also stuck with fly-half Handre Pollard, whose physical presence gives their midfield an extra dimension in terms of their game plan.
But they will be without Captain Jean De Villiers who continues to work himself toward full fitness after a serious knee injury, meaning forward Victor Matfield will lead out the Boks.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (capt), 1James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 James Horwill, 20 David Pocock, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Drew Mitchell.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana,10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 6 Francois Louw, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 8 Schalk Burger.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.