That was the last time the tourists triumphed over the South Africans at this venue, with Australian coach Ewen McKenzie cherishing fond memories of that day. “I was here in 1992 and I enjoyed winning that game, so I’ve got fine memories,” McKenzie said on Thursday at the team hotel, which is a stone’s throw away from the stadium.
“It is a tough place to play for sure but for me personally, I’ve had some of my finest football moments playing there and we are looking forward to the weekend being another one.” The match played 21 years ago was the first between the two powerhouses of world rugby since South Africa’s readmission to international sport.
While the Wallabies were out of the running of winning the Rugby Championship, they could retain the Nelson Mandela Plate for the fourth consecutive year if they beat the Boks. The Springboks gave themselves a fighting chance of winning the four-nation competition when they convincingly beat Australia 38-12 in Brisbane earlier this month.
The following week, the All Blacks brought the Boks’ nine-match unbeaten run to an abrupt halt with a 29-15 victory in Auckland. The South Africans will be looking to get the full complement of log points from this Test, to set up what would be a final against the All Blacks in Johannesburg next week.
However, the Wallabies have every intention of obstructing the Springboks’ path to claiming the title. “The challenge for us to make that happen, we look forward to the Test match and we look forward to going out there and try to knock them out of their rhythm,” McKenzie said.
“No one will back us but that sits fine with us. Two wins in a row would be significant for this team, especially winning in South Africa given their current circumstance. “We’ve got a great opportunity to be a thorn in what they are trying to do.”
McKenzie said while the plans conjured up for the Boks in their previous encounter did not come off in Brisbane he was confident the team could manage this time around. “They [Springboks] are going well, they were on a pretty good unbeaten run, but that is stopped now,” he said.
“They do what they do well, so it is up to teams that play against them to try and change their rhythm and make them play how they don’t like to play. “We had ideas about that and we didn’t get close last time, we still have ideas about how we might do that.”
Wallabies stalwart Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has been shifted to the wing said his side needed to be sharp defensively to ensure the Springboks’ forwards did not get an early physical advantage.
“They’ve been performing really well, they haven’t had to make too many changes apart from Fourie du Preez, they’ve been performing really well off the back off their forwards moving forward,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“We are certainly aware of the ascendancy they can achieve off the back of their physicality and great ball carries. “For us it is about defensively connecting as a unit, making sure they don’t get that going as much as they’d like.”
Ashley-Cooper said the inclusion of Du Preez would add another dimension to the Springboks’ play, particularly in the backline.
“He is a world class halfback. “I’m sure he is gonna get great service to Morne [Steyn], they’ve got a great combination and they’ve shown that over the last couple of years and I’m sure that is not going to change this weekend.”