JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Australia’s first-up thrashing by a second-string South Africa side in the Rugby Championship on Saturday has triggered alarm bells at home but scrumhalf Nic White has said all the Wallabies’ ills can be fixed within a week.
Australia were belted 35-17 by a Springboks team shorn of regular flyhalf Handre Pollard, number eight Duane Vermeulen and powerful hooker Malcolm Marx among others, and head home to face an Argentina team that pushed the All Blacks hard in defeat in Bueno Aires.
Following on from a 2018 season that yielded only four wins from 13 games, the Boks defeat has heaped further pressure on coach Michael Cheika, less than two months before the start of the World Cup in Japan.
White, who played his first test in four years and started ahead of regular scrumhalf Will Genia, said there was no need for Wallabies fans to panic, despite the team shipping five tries, blowing two try chances of their own and generally being dominated at Ellis Park.
“It may have been a little bit clunky but we feel that we’re putting a few things in place and that we’re not far away,” White told reporters in Johannesburg.
“We are trying to do things a bit differently so there’s going to be a few teething problems but I felt like in that first half when we were patient we were creating opportunities.
“If a few of those opportunities go to hand that game looks a lot different so it’s not panic stations.
“We need to work on a few things and make sure we take those moments and I think that’s something we can turn around in a week.”
White made a positive return to international rugby but was ultimately upstaged by rookie scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, who scored two tries on debut as South Africa claimed a bonus-point victory.
Argentina upset the Wallabies on the Gold Coast last year and will head into Saturday’s match in Brisbane with confidence.
“I’ve obviously played against a few other Argie boys and they are tough guys to play,” said Exeter Chiefs halfback White.
“They are a good team and they’re very athletic, muscly guys … we’re going to have our hands full.”
The Rugby Championship is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Before the 2012 tournament, when Argentina joined, it was known as the Tri Nations. It is administered by SANZAAR.