Round Three of the Rugby Championship sees South Africa travel to Adelaide to tackle Australia, who come off a record loss to Argentina last time out.
Planet Rugby breaks down five talking points ahead of an intriguing clash.
Springboks hoping to finally end their Australian drought
South Africa last won a Test match on Australian soil in 2013 when the Springboks claimed a 38-12 result of which only four of the current squad were a part of. The 2021 season underlined the Springboks’ struggles down under as the world champions were well beaten in back-to-back Tests in a relocated Rugby Championship.
With the Wallabies struggling with injury and poor form, the Springboks have a golden opportunity to get past their Australian hoodoo after selecting a reasonably settled side. However, counting out a Wallabies side at home would be foolish.
Rugby Championship chance finally comes for Noah Lolesio
The Wallabies playmaker is handed an opportunity to orchestrate the Wallabies side. However, one could consider the promising star unlucky not to have had an extended run in the Rugby Championship after performing well in their July internationals against England.
Nevertheless, Lolesio could be the Wallabies’ long-term solution at fly-half, considering the age of James O’Connor and Quade Cooper. A massive Test against the Springboks will tell whether the pivot can be the go-to man for Australia for the long term. All eyes will be on Lolesio facing up against the experienced Handre Pollard.
Joseph Dweba keen to bounce back after All Blacks struggles
The Springbok hooker endured a shocking performance against the All Blacks last time out that saw him replaced after only 30 minutes. Dweba was uninfluential on the game and failed to execute in the set-piece, with several of his lineouts being stolen or not thrown in straight.
The potential of Dweba is obvious; he is a powerhouse in terms of physicality and a strong scrummager. The Springbok’s downfall is the execution of fundamentals in his role, and if he can execute basics correctly, then he could well blossom into a force to be reckoned with. It is a bold move to start Dweba after his poor outing but one that might prove beneficial as it gives the Stormers star a chance to lay a more solid basis for his Test career.
Hunter Paisami return at 12 is a massive boost for Wallabies
The robust ball carrier returns after missing out on the second Test against Argentina. Paisami is an incredible player with the ability to cover both centre positions. The midfielder’s strength is not only with ball in hand but also in defence. This will be crucial against the settled centre combination of the Springboks in Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
Paisami will give the Wallabies a more direct option with an elusive component to his game due to the Reds star’s time at outside centre. The 24-year-old will need to support Lolesio on his inside as the Springboks will undoubtedly target the 10 channel. The return of Paisami is well timed, and the security of the Australian midfield will be only better for it.
Springboks revert to a 5-3 bench while Wallabies select a 6-2
The Springboks have opted for the more conventional 5-3 split on the bench after being burnt one too many times by the tactic, as the world champions have had to deal with an injury and suspension crisis on the right wing. As a result, the famed ‘bomb squad’ will ultimately have less influence, meaning some of the forwards must perform for longer stints. However, the decision does not necessarily give coach Jacques Nienaber more backline options in the latter stages, as question marks remain about Elton Jantjies’ Test career.
Conversely, the Wallabies have gone for the 6-2 split, with Reece Hodge’s versatility in the backline key in allowing the tactical move. Coach Dave Rennie would be hoping the extra forward on the bench can mitigate the influence of the big South African pack, a level of physicality the players do not often experience anymore with the changes in Super Rugby.
A flip of tactics for both sides will offer an interesting match-up in Adelaide, where both teams have a lot to play for in a uniquely wide-open Rugby Championship in 2022.