Home Sport Wallabies are ready for Springbok forwards onslaught says Rob Valetini

Wallabies are ready for Springbok forwards onslaught says Rob Valetini


Australia’s Rob Valetini says they know what to expect when they take on a big Springbok pack in Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener.

Australia’s Rob Valetini in action during a training session
FILE – Australia’s Rob Valetini in action during a training session. Photo: Brenton Edwards/AFP

Johannesburg — Rob Valetini and his Australian teammates are ready for an all-out physical onslaught up-front when the Wallabies face the Springboks in their Rugby Championship clash this weekend.

On Tuesday afternoon, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber announced his matchday 23 for the encounter, revealing a brutish pack filled with big ball carriers. Loose-forward Valetini, if selected by Eddie Jones on Wednesday, will then come up against Marco van Staden, Pieter-Steph du Toit and skipper Duane Vermeulen.

Speaking after the Bok team announcement, the 24-year-old argued that the Boks’ bulk and physicality was impressive and that they will have to manage that facet of the game if they are to glean any advantage from the pack battle.

“They are big boys,” he said, “especially Duane there at the back of the scrum.

“We are going to have to be wary of him, and the other two there as well. They are big ball carriers and when I think of the Springboks, that is what they bring.

“We are going to have to find ways to bring them to the ground and try and slow them up there.”

The Boks have also opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, with Joseph Dweba, Thomas du Toit or Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Evan Roos and Deon Fourie the forward replacements. It has all the characteristics of a Bomb Squad strategy and could have a huge bearing on the game in the second half.

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Said Valetini: “With the Springboks, their forwards do a lot of work with their big carries.

“We think they are going to try and bully us with their forward pack and then unleash their reserves. We are ready for that. It is going to be an 80 minute game of high pace and a lot of impact on the field.”

Beware the Bok backline

The Bok backline will also be heavily scrutinised by the Wallabies’ think tank in the coming days, with the biggest talking point before the game the No.10 selection of Manie Libbok.

Despite his inexperience, veteran Reece Hodge spoke with a degree of respect regarding Libbok and that the 25-year-old’s selection was proof that the Boks had developed impressive depth.

“Manie’s got a couple of Tests in the Autumn Internationals last year,” the 28-year-old utility-back said.

“He has been playing well for the Stormers for several years now and putting his hand up for selection. He hasn’t let the Springboks down when he has got a chance at Test level.

“They have a lot of depth in a lot of positions in the backline, and it is probably the same in the forward pack as well. They have four, five, six guys in every position that can step up to the rigours of Test footie …”

Another player that has set the touchpaper alight in recent seasons is Damian Willemse. The 28-year-old is on the bench for the match, and will cover flyhalf, centre and fullback. He is another piece in the Bok set-up that the Australians are well aware of.

“He is a quality player,” said Hodge.

“He was a young guy coming through playing a lot of 10, a bit of 15. We have seen him now play in the centre at Test level, but also thriving at 10 and 15 as well.

“With him on the bench there, he has the ability to come on and spark the attack, whether that is at 10, centre or 15. He is someone we definitely have to do our homework on.

“I know that he is going to pose a threat when he does come onto the field but we must bring it back to ourselves again and make sure we are prepared,” Hodge concluded.


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