BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa have been told to concentrate on the basics of test rugby rather than the outcome when they host Australia on Saturday, as they attempt to recover from a crushing blow in their last Rugby Championship encounter.
The Springboks are reeling from their record 57-0 thrashing by the All Blacks in Auckland a fortnight ago, effectively undoing the positives of a six-match unbeaten run.
“I know results are important but they will come if we get the basics right. Our processes are our focus point on Saturday, not the result,” insisted South Africa coach Allister Coetzee at a news conference on Thursday, although he hastily added: “It is important to win.
“The loss to New Zealand was a horror experience and we hope to be more accurate in our execution this week. We’ve prepared massively on our set pieces and the team has worked very hard this week.
“We want to turn it around, so let’s leave our talking for the field on Saturday.”
Coetzee resisted wholesale changes with just three different players from the starting line-up thrashed by New Zealand.
Australia coach Michael Cheika also refrained from shaking up his squad too much, making a trio of changes to his team after their 45-20 victory over Argentina in Canberra a fortnight ago.
The selection of Jack Dempsey, Marika Koroibete and Izack Rodda, who all make their first starts for Australia, is an indication Cheika has an eye on exposing younger players to test rugby, with the World Cup in Japan two years away.
Cheika will be hoping “aggressive” Dempsey will prove disruptive in the loose and the giant lock Rodda, who is only 21, be a match for the Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth.
“The eyes roll in the back of the head with Jack, if you know what I mean. He gets very aggressive and that’s what I like. I like that. You have to have one or two of those guys in your pack,” said the coach.
South Africa and Australia drew 23-23 in Perth earlier this month.
The Boks conclude their Rugby Championship campaign at home to New Zealand next Saturday while Australia play away in Argentina.
Editing by Christian Radnedge