Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has produced something new in his side’s quest for consistency by naming an unchanged starting line-up for the second clash with South Africa in Sydney on Saturday night. It is the first time in his 26-match reign he has not made a change to the starting 15, having made at least four in every Test so far this year, many forced by injury.
It means Rennie is backing in the same personnel to tidy up some significant flaws from the 25-17 Rugby Championship win against the Springboks in Adelaide last weekend, including deficient set-piece work that saw them win just seven of their 13 lineouts.
He will again go with an all-Brumbies front row of James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa over bench options Taniel Tupou, Scott Sio and Dave Porecki, while outside back Andrew Kellaway will again have to make his impact off the bench.
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has taken the opposite approach, swinging the axe with nine changes to his injury-hit team. Notably, five-eighth Handre Pollard misses with a knee injury and will be replaced in the No 10 shirt by Damian Willemse, whose fullback role will be taken by veteran Willie le Roux.
“It’s great to be able to have some consistency in selection with the team that played last week earning the right to wear the jersey again in Sydney,” Rennie said on Thursday. “While rapt with last week’s effort, we’re well aware of the challenge a wounded Springbok poses and the intensity we will require again on Saturday night.”
Wallabies assistant coach Scott Wisemantel called on the team to be more ruthless in delivering a complete display, having coughed up a bonus point in allowing two late tries in the Adelaide Test.
“You’re filthy that you miss that point, you’re absolutely livid,” he said. “We’re really disappointed with that last eight-to-10-minute period, and we had chances there, even when it was three tries to one we had another chance off a set piece to do something.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more cut-throat, a little bit more ruthless in that regard, so it’s definitely something we’ve spoken about and we’ve worked on.”