Wallabies skipper Stirling Mortlock is hoping that Australia can overcome their barren spell in South Africa and get the better of the Boks when they clash in Durban and Johannesburg over the next two weekends.
Phil Coetzer writes for Rugby 365 that the Australian team arrived at their Cape Town hotel on Sunday in relaxed mode, before Mortlock had an informal chat with reporters.
The Wallabies have a dismal record in Test matches in South Africa, having won only one out of their last 14 Tests on South African soil.
That 19-18 win came in August 2000 in Durban, a match that Mortlock was involved in. The Aussie centre revealed why he thought playing the Boks in their own country was such a big challenge.
“I think first and foremost South Africa get tremendous support, and generally seem to grow an extra leg when they’re playing at home,” he said. “They just tend to rise to the occasion.
“I think we’ve been extremely close a number of times that I’ve been involved with Australia, and we had another narrow defeat last year.
“It’s frustrating to taste defeat so many times, and to not come away with the victory, so that’s the challenge this time.”
The Wallaby captain aired his views on the Springboks’ 0-19 loss against the All Blacks at Newlands on Saturday, and felt that despite the demoralising manner of the defeat, and the fact that their Tri-Nations chances are now merely mathematical, the Boks would still be a major force.
“I don’t think the Springboks performed that badly [on Saturday]. I think the All Blacks really committed to a solid gameplan.
“There were a number of times where the Boks were extremely unlucky not to have scored, and if they had scored on those occasions, the whole game probably would have turned.
“The loss will probably spur them on this coming weekend.”
Mortlock was also understandably coy about revealing which areas the Wallabies would be targeting next weekend.
“We’ve done a little analysis but we’ll look into more detail this week,” the skipper diplomatically quipped.
“At this stage we’re looking to focus on our preparation. From our last performance there are a number of things we can rectify, and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”
The Wallabies are now in the driving seat with regards to the Tri-Nations race. Their destiny is firmly in their own hands, despite the fact that they have two away matches to negotiate against the Boks.
The fact remains that the Aussies have three matches remaining to score points, the Boks two, while the All Blacks only have one match left to add to their tally of 14 points.
But Mortlock refuses to get ahead of himself.
“I think it’s a bit premature for us to be looking at the Tri-Nations [title],” he warned.
“That’s obviously the end goal, but first and foremost this weekend is a real big occasion for us.
“We have the opportunity of taking on the Boks two weeks in a row, and we’re very hopeful that we can apply ourselves very well this week, and be ready for a massive Test match in Durban.”Tweet