Boks' No.1 spot on line against Wallabies

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper expects more of the same, only better from South Africa as their world No.1 status goes on the line in Brisbane.

© Regi Varghese/AAP PHOTOS The Wallabies expect South Africa to again spend little time with ball in hand in Brisbane.

The Springboks made just 54 passes in their 28-26 Rugby Championship loss on the Gold Coast last Sunday, compared to Australia’s 129, according to rugby statistician Russ Petty.

New Zealand made 242 passes in their big win against Argentina earlier in the day, the variance highlighting South Africa’s penchant for playing without the ball.

That tactical kicking mentality has seen them claim the 2019 World Cup and reach the rankings summit, while they arrived in Australia fresh off a 2-1 series win over the British and Irish Lions.

But a repeat of Sunday’s results in Saturday’s double-header at Suncorp Stadium could see the Springboks relinquish top spot to the All Blacks.

A Wallabies win would see them jump to a three-year high of No.3, jumping another two spots after starting last week ranked a worst-ever seventh.

“I didn’t know that but winning is what we care about, or the only way we’re going to maintain that No.1 spot,” South African captain Siya Kolisi said.

“We won’t focus on that, we just want to win this weekend to get back into the competition.”

The Springboks missed four shots on goal in their after-the-siren loss to Australia and have only slightly tweaked their team for Saturday rematch.

“We don’t anticipate them going away from their game,” Hooper said.

“They have some real attacking threats in their backline and when they do get to the right parts of the field they can move the ball around quite well.

“But if we play in the right parts of the field … I anticipate seeing the same amount of kicks from them, (trying to) get into the areas of the field where they can play.

“And they’re a fantastic set-piece team; we know that’s going to go up another gear tomorrow, we know what their team is capable of.”

South Africa will start short-priced favourites with bookies despite Australia’s nine-game winning streak at the venue and the Springboks’ horrible track record in Australia.

Since 1993 they boast just four wins – three of those coming in Perth – and two draws from 29 Tests in this country.

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