Wallabies want big performance for Force fans
ADAM Coleman will proudly wear Wallaby gold into Saturday night's intense pack fight against the Springboks in Perth yet his closest family will all be wearing Western Force blue in the grandstand to protest against the injustice dealt to his Super Rugby club.
Nothing better sums up the swirl of emotions that are percolating through this intriguing Test at nib Stadium where blue jerseys and inflammatory banners seem certain to outnumber those in the colours of rugby's national team.
"The ARU ... Anti Rugby Union", "Stop The De-Clyne" and "The Force Was My Dream ... The ARU Stole It" are just a selection of the emotive messages on banners already seen in the west.
Security will be subtly raised a notch around the ARU's top officials Bill Pulver and Cameron Clyne, who will watch the Test from an open-air area of the main stand and are hardy enough to be expecting a few barbs.
Western Australians see the ARU as the arch villain of the Force axing but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has done everything possible to differentiate his team so it cops no misguided fallout.
He supports the wearing of blue jerseys, alongside gold, in the crowd as "a great thing" and wants a big performance "to show how much we want to play for WA on the field and for those (Force) lads in our team".
Lock Coleman stepped up brilliantly a year ago in Perth with 18 tackles, high workrate and the shrewd tail-of-the-lineout call for a top set-play try when his hour of power against Argentina stamped him as a terrific Test prospect.
He will have to step up again against Eben Etzebeth, the new Springboks captain and enforcer who is one of the few world locks who can look Coleman directly in the eyes at 2.04m.
"Playing a Test in front of Force and Wallabies fans for the first time was an amazing experience and there's obviously going to be extra motivation in my home town for this one," Coleman said.
"The first thing, always, against the Boks is the physicality of their forwards and you've got to take it to them, not shy away."
Back-row great Imanol Harinordoquy famously wore his Basque colours under his French Test jersey but Coleman's support for the Force will be slightly different.
"My partner, my uncle ... they'll be in the stands wearing blue and supporting the Wallabies," Coleman said.
It's a shame Saturday night's crowd turnout won't reach the 25,718 level when the Boks last visited Perth in 2015 because two rugby heavyweights fighting to regain status should be an absorbing spectacle.
After eight Test losses under Allister Coetzee in a disastrous 2016, the Boks have rebounded with more tries (nine) in their two recent wins over Argentina than they scored (eight) in the whole Rugby Championship last year thanks to the coaching clarity of assistants Franco Smith (attack) and Brendan Venter (defence).
There was a feel-good vibe from the character shown by the Wallabies in Dunedin recently but the blunt takeaway must still be that it was a loss and basics like bungled kick-offs must be fixed for Perth.
The Wallabies must be alert to the change in South African methods in the back row, which has gone away from 120kg trucks like Willem Alberts to a more agile link-man flanker like Siya Kolisi and all-purpose hardman Jaco Kriel.
Cheika has rightly challenged his Wallabies to set a standard of big attitude every Test without needing a flood of public criticism as a trigger after a poor showing.
"That is the key to rugby getting back to the (right) level in this country as a whole, delivering every week," he said.
"That's not being content to sit on the back of one happy performance because chaps aren't throwing eggs at you that week."
Rattling defence must set the tone to pressure gifted yet inconsistent Springboks five-eighth Elton Jantjies because a big counter-attack try off a turnover would set a winning path for the Wallabies.
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (c), Ned Hannigan, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Jack Dempsey, Nick Phipps, Samu Kerevi, Curtis Rona.
Springboks: Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Uzair Cassiem, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth (c), Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, Jean-Luc du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Handré Pollard, Damian de Allende