BRISBANE, July 23 – South Africa, reeling after losing both their opening two Tri-Nations Tests, have been urged to get back to basics and refocus for their must-win match against Australia here on Saturday.The Springbok world champions’ Tri-Nations’ title defence lurched to a disastrous start with consecutive 32-12 and 31-17 losses to the All Blacks and they are already trailing by 10 points with four matches to play.
South Africa will have to defy history to get past the Wallabies, having not won at Brisbane’s Lang Park in six attempts, stretching back to 1965.
The Springboks have been aggrieved about the refereeing and judicial rulings in their two opening matches in New Zealand and the ramifications with two players suspended.
Coach Peter de Villiers has voiced his concerns about the performances of Irish referees Alan Lewis and Alain Rolland in both matches and South Africa face another Irish match official on Saturday when George Clancy controls their crucial Test in Brisbane.
Vice-captain Victor Matfield said the onus was on the Springboks to adapt to the referee’s law interpretations but believed their discipline was good in New Zealand.
"It’s just doing stupid things out of our character that we have to cut out at the moment," the lineout general said late Thursday.
"I think the two areas we definitely had a look at is the breakdown and our defence and hopefully that will be better.
"I think we need to do everything better. We’re not right up there at the moment."
Former Springbok fullback Percy Montgomery, now the team’s kicking coach, has urged South Africa to return to the structures that worked so well for them last year.
"We are not going to chuck everything out because we lost two games," he said.
"We have been saying to the guys that we have to come down to earth and get back to basics. If we get the basics right, the rest will follow.
"For some reason, we are getting things wrong that should be second nature, such as kickoffs and not getting into position to field kicks.
"We made a lot of mistakes in Wellington that were attributed to the wind, but the All Blacks played in the same conditions and coped well."
De Villiers has reacted to the opening defeats by making four changes to the starting fifteen and a further five on the reserves bench.
Gio Aplon starts in place of the suspended Jean de Villiers on the right wing and Ruan Pienaar is promoted in place of Ricky Januarie at scrum-half, while BJ Botha starts ahead of CJ van der Linde at tighthead prop and Ryan Kankowski is preferred to Francois Louw.
The Brisbane Test comes at a time of growing unease about the Wallabies’ development under coach Robbie Deans a year out from the World Cup in New Zealand.
In three seasons under Deans, the Wallabies have won only 18 of 32 Tests, and only won four of 14 Tests against New Zealand and South Africa in that time.
Australia have had a mixed start to 2010 with victories over Fiji, Ireland and England, but losing their second game against the English 21-20 in Sydney last month with an injury-depleted forward pack.
The home side look to be more dangerous this time with Queensland Reds’ duo, Will Genia and Quade Cooper, reuniting at the halves and sturdy Benn Robinson returning in the front row.