The Rugby Championship
An annual competition involving the southern hemisphere’s top four rugby-playing nations – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. Known as the Tri Nations from 1996 to 2012, before the Pumas were invited to join the party.
Pressure on rookie Goosen to deliver Springbok victory
Agence France-Presse in Johannesburg
South Africa are banking on 20-year-old fly-half Johan Goosen against Australia in Pretoria today to kick-start a Rugby Championship season that has veered off course.
After a comfortable home win over debutants Argentina, the Springboks snatched a lucky draw in the southern hemisphere championship return fixture before losing leads in away defeats by Australia and New Zealand.
These failures triggered a media and public outcry and coach Heyneke Meyer responded by axing fly-half Morne Steyn and giving a first Test start to a fly-half whose senior rugby union career began only 12 months ago in the Currie Cup.
“I feel Johan is now ready to start a Test and I’m excited to see what he can bring,” said Meyer, who is feeling the pressure after starting his Springbok tenure with a 2-0 mid-year series win over England.
Meyer also changed his locks, recalling Western Stormers pair Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker in place of Bulls duo Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger, who lost five of their throws against New Zealand.
“Australia are very good in the line-outs and will put us under pressure there – that’s why we have gone for taller players in Eben and Andries,” Meyer said.
There could be a late fourth change as Francois Steyn faces a fitness test. If he drops out, Jaco Taute will win his first cap at outside centre with skipper Jean de Villiers moving to his preferred inside centre role.
“The Springboks are proud men and do not lose at Loftus very often. They will be spurred on by an atmosphere that is always electric there,” warned New Zealand-born Australia coach Robbie Deans. “They are coming off a tour which would have disappointed them. They were in both contests to the end and will feel that they could have won on both occasions.”