Wobbling Wallabies laid low by injury worries
Injuries among the Australian squad raise Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’s chances of success
Brisbane — Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’s chances of success have received a significant boost after it emerged on Wednesday that the Australians are sweating over the fitness of influential open-side flanker David Pocock and fullback Israel Folau.
Australia coach Michael Cheika will rely on advice from his medical team on the availability of the two players for the Rugby Championship clash against the South Africans at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams announce their squads on Thursday and the chances of Pocock and Folau facing the visitors are rated 50/50. Cheika’s problems this week did not end with Pocock and Folau as back-up scrumhalf Nick Phipps is also in doubt with a rib injury.
The Australians are also keeping their fingers crossed that prop Taniela Tupou responds to treatment on his hamstring. Despite the uncertainty surrounding several of their key players, scrumhalf Will Genia urged his teammates to raise their game against the Boks after conceding 12 tries in two recent disheartening defeats to the All Blacks.
"We need to show some resilience and hit back," Genia said as they continued their preparations ahead of Saturday’s showdown against the Boks. "One of the disappointing things is that sometimes during games we have not done our jobs individually."
Unlike the Wallabies, the Boks, who were rested from training and doing media engagements on Wednesday, have no worries about the players and have focused on getting back to winning ways.
There is expectation that Erasmus could ring the changes and send a strong message to his players after their embarrassing defeat to Argentina in Mendoza last week. Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies is likely to be chosen ahead of Handré Pollard, who has been struggling with the boot recently, at the Brisbane venue that has a reputation for attacking rugby.
There is also the possibility of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel being thrown into the starting line-up in midfield with André Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am dropping out and veteran Cheslin Kolbe coming onto the bench.