Rugby: Wallabies coach weighs changes to counter Boks' power

By Jim Morton

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie. Photo / Getty Images

Cagey Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is keeping his selection cards close to his chest but has hinted at changes to run South Africa into the ground at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Australia's new coach is aiming for his maiden test win following back-to-back losses against the All Blacks to start the Rugby Championship.

Brumbies backs Jessie Mogg and Matt Toomua are under most pressure and McKenzie admitted he was looking closely at changing personnel and tactics against the bigger, highly-physical Springboks.

"There's always the potential for change," he said. "We're playing a different team in a different context so different things will come into play so we're definitely looking at that."

Mercurial five-eighth Quade Cooper looms as a likely replacement for Toomua at No 10 but his former Queensland Reds mentor continues to bat away queries about Cooper's selection hopes.

"It's about how we want to play the game tactically, then we'll have a look at the best guys to do that," he said.

"We've got three playmakers [also including Bernard Foley] in the group and I'm happy with all of them."

Cooper has a fine record against South African teams with both Australia and Queensland, while the Wallabies have won all seven of their Suncorp Stadium clashes against the Boks, traditionally running them ragged.

South Africa started the tournament with 73-13 and 22-17 home and away wins over Argentina, playing to their strengths with attacking mauls, set-piece play and territorial pressure.

"Their formula works for them," McKenzie said. "That's how they do it - that's the Springbok way.

"We're in the process of how we want to do it - the Australian way - and it's a bit different.

"There's a clash of rugby approaches. They love having set-pieces and they structure most of their game from that.

"That's what they want. The question is whether you give it to them."

- AAP

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