John Robbie: You can't write Australia off yet

The Springboks on home soil should be good enough to beat Australia at Ellis Park, but the visitors are capable of springing a surprise if the Boks are not wary.

John Robbie. Picture: 702

CAPE TOWN - Former Ireland scrum-half John Robbie believes the Springboks should focus on their attack in their first Rugby Championship clash against Australia in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth will lead the Springboks at Ellis Park, with loose-forward Rynhardt Elstadt and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies both making their Test debuts on the Highveld.

"South Africa should win against the Wallabies because our backline is full of speed - full of strength, but the one thing I don't know - do we have that brain," said Robbie.

"You look at any backline, there's always that player who controls the thinking. Now you look at us, in the middle we've got speed, on the outside, Warrick Gelant is marvellous to watch. Then you have debutant Herschel Jantjies pairing with Elton Jantjies. Now I don't know who in that backline will control the thought of it, the brains behind it. But in all that, I cannot see South Africa losing to Australia"

Robbie won his first cap for Ireland against Australia in 1976 and went on to receive 9 caps for his country. He toured South Africa in 1980 with the British and Irish Lions, playing in one Test match.

He believes Australia has been through a difficult time lately and may struggle to regroup. "Before the controversy, Australia had the worst international season last year since 1958. Their coach somehow survived, and the best player in the world, the best player for Australia, has been dropped and suspended because of the controversial religious comments," said Robbie.

"The coach's [Michael Cheika] only job is to make sure the players are playing together. Can he do it? One thing I can warn you though is, Cheika has got rid of assistant coach Stephen Larkham, he has brought a new guy called Shaun Berne who is the skills coach. One of the things he is looking at is deception on and off the field. So I wouldn't write off Australia yet," Robbie added.

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