Australia prop Ben Alexander is not taking any glee from the fact that South Africa will be missing influential second row forward Bakkies Botha through injury when the team’s meet in their Rugby World Cup quarter final this weekend.
Alexander has heaped praise on Botha’s replacement, Danie Roussow, and claims that the scrum is still an area of concern for the Wallabies.
“They just keep producing one massive lock after another, they’ve got a production line there,” Alexander said.
“Danie’s a great player, an excellent ball carrier, he’s just as big and just as physical (as Botha) and he’s almost got as many Tests (62 to Botha’s 76), so they won’t miss him too much.”
Alexander said the Wallabies had learned from their shock 15-6 loss to Ireland in the pool phase, where the Irish forwards dominated, and were determined to improve against reigning champions South Africa in Wellington.
“We were beaten to the punch early on and allowed them to assert their dominance,” he said.
“We’ve been putting a lot of hard work into our scrummaging and we’ve started to see some results — obviously the Ireland game was a bit of a slip-up.
“The great sides at scrum time are consistent, they scrum well every scrum, every game and don’t take any backward steps ever.
“We unfortunately did, so it proves we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re happy with the way we’re tracking and our best is still to come.”
He said Australia’s two wins over the Springboks in this year’s Tri-Nations “count for nothing” at the World Cup, as South Africa’s line-up then was largely exerimental but had now become match-hardened after emerging from a tough pool.
In good news for Australia, Alexander said openside flanker David Pocock was fully fit after playing the first half of the Wallabies’ 68-22 win over Rusia.
“He’s a great boost to the side, he a good ball runner and a great defender, he’s one of the top few in the breakdown in the world,” Alexander said.
Australia’s kicking coach Braam van Straaten, himself a former Springbok centre, said the Wallabies would be looking for drop goal opportunities in what could be a tight contest if Wellington’s rainy weather continues until Sunday.
“We’ve talked about it, the boys are quite capable and if the opportunity arises and they have to get one, they’ll obviously go for it,” van Straaten said.