South African captain John Smit believes Samoa have done the Springboks no favours with their upset win over the Wallabies in Sydney.
The South Africans named three debutants in a largely inexperienced run-on side for Saturday’s Tri Nations opener at ANZ Stadium and Smit feels his team could be on the end of an Australian backlash after their humbling by the Pacific Islanders.
“I suppose it’s not probably the best result for us,” Smit told reporters on Tuesday.
“There’s certainly no chance of us catching them unmotivated right now. They’ll be pretty motivated to turn things around.”
South Africa already faced a major challenge with numerous leading players being left at home to rest and recuperate from injury as they gear towards the World Cup.
So it was no surprise when coach Peter De Villiers announced a team boasting eight players with 10 caps or less, including first-timers Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger and Ashley Johnson.
Greyling and Kruger will pack down in the front-row either side of vastly experienced hooker Smit, who will be playing his 103rd Test.
And he fully expects Australia to target the newcomers.
“I think any guy on debut is going to be mentioned in an opposition’s team talk,” Smit said.
“These guys have come through a pretty successful campaign. Dean has gotten a chance now because of an injury to Gurthro Steenkamp and Werner’s been going for quite some time, about three seasons, with pretty solid performances.
“They’ll be nervous and I’m pretty sure Australia will want to have a crack at them as well up front.
“I’m sure they’ll understand that but the boys have stepped up every week in Super 15 so I can’t see it being any different in a Test match.”
De Villiers said he won’t be trying to emulate the Samoan gameplan of targeting the breakdown but would instead try to nullify the dual threat of Quade Cooper and Will Genia by starving the Australians of possession.
He also believed Samoa’s win, which lifted South Africa above Australia into second on the latest IRB rankings, was the last thing South Africa needed.
“They won’t be undercooked against us. We know that,” De Villiers said.
“We’ve all been through those kind of lows in our lives too, that’s a learning curve for all of us and what they took from it will determine how they’re going to come into this game.
“Genia and Cooper is a hell of a danger, you know that … there’s a lot of dangers in the Wallabies side.
“If you’ve got the ball, you don’t have to target the breakdown. So we will try to hold onto our ball, our possession, and then we don’t need to flood the breakdowns.”