Wallabies tune up for fast start against Springboks

Wallabies' Izack Rodda is tackled during the Rugby Championship's fourth round clash between Australia and Argentina at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Wallabies' Izack Rodda is tackled during the Rugby Championship's fourth round clash between Australia and Argentina at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Bloemfontein: The sweet tune of Cold Chisel's Khe Sanh blasting through Free State Stadium on Friday was a nice reminder for the Wallabies they were at their home away from home in South Africa.

On the eve of Australia's Test with the Springboks, Kurtley Beale returned to the scene where he slotted one of the most memorable penalties in Wallabies history to secure a famous 41-39 victory seven years ago.

Morale was high and players went through their warm ups with Jimmy Barnes' voice pumping them up to ahead of what could be just their second win in 54 years on the Highveld, South Africa's high-altitude plateau.

"I loved it," said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper of the choice of song. "We took requests at the start of the year and these were the ones that featured the most heavily. It was good, a nice change-up."

The Wallabies have a winning record of 50 per cent at Bloemfontein, which is far better than at other altitude venues such as Johannesburg (nine per cent) and Pretoria (no wins from seven matches).

Hooper believes the key to victory will be starting strong and striking an early blow on the South Africans who will be equally as hungry for victory after their 57-0 loss to the All Blacks in their last outing.

"Start fast, start well and put pressure on these guys," Hooper told reporters on Friday. "We were disappointed and it's been well written about our start down in Canberra [against Argentina] by just allowing the opposition into the game through things we're doing off our own bat. We want to come out and [be] the first to strike tomorrow.

"Both teams are fired up, they have something to prove."

The Wallabies know they won't be able to extract any more Bloemfontein magic. The onus will be on them to take it to the Springboks for the full 80 minutes, something Hooper said they did not do in the same match last year in Pretoria.

"I've seen footage, I've seen video, I've talked to Kurtley about that night [in 2010]," Hooper said. "It was a fantastic historical event for Australian rugby to get that win in the fashion they did. It's a place that we're all very close to play at and make some of our own history.

"We were really disappointed with that performance last year. We allowed the game to get away from us. I thought we were in control at parts. Slowly discipline, mistakes, errors [and] lack of urgency allowed them to creep back in and South African teams put that pressure on. They can really punish you."

Three starting debutants - Izack Rodda, Jack Dempsey and Marika Koroibete - will get their chance on Saturday (Sunday AEST) and Hooper is confident they can achieve what they set out to do.

"I've been really impressed with those guys," Hooper said. "I've been with Jack for quite a while. He had a great game here a couple of years ago for the Tahs against the Cheetahs. Lukhan [Tui] has been amazing at training. His attention to detail and that aggression has been fantastic and Rodda has been doing it for weeks.

"To get these guys some genuine minutes on the field tomorrow night ??? [there is] plenty of opportunity for these guys to stake a claim."

This story Wallabies tune up for fast start against Springboks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.