The Wallabies might have never won at Loftus Versfeld before but winger Henry Speight knows what it takes to beat the odds at one of rugby’s most intimidating venues.
Australia is preparing for a nasty reception in Pretoria when they face South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday (Sunday morning AEST).
The Wallabies have been beaten in all six matches at the high-altitude arena, and in 1997 suffered a horror 61-22 mauling against the Springboks – the most points they’ve ever conceded in one match, and their second-biggest loss to South Africa in history.
Speight, however, has conquered Loftus Versfeld before.
Along with skipper Stephen Moore, Scott Sio, Tevita Kuridrani and Scott Fardy, he was part of the Brumbies team that went all the way to the 2013 Super Rugby decider, beating the Bulls 26-23 in the semi-final – the only time an Australian franchise has won in Pretoria for nearly a decade.
“I’ve played a fair bit here. It’s been good and bad,” Speight said.
“Pretoria was good to us in 2013 on our run to the finals for Brumbies.
“It’s a hostile environment and a hostile place to play and our record is against us but we’re looking to change that this weekend.
“It’s a mixture of everything – the atmosphere, the fans are pretty vocal there and they really get behind their teams. The Springboks won’t be any different this weekend.”
The Wallabies probably won’t get a better chance to break their Pretoria hoodoo than this weekend.
South Africa are a team in disarray following their heavy 41-13 loss to New Zealand in their last outing and coach Alister Coetzee is threatening to swing the selection axe in response.
A win for Australia would be a huge confidence booster heading into games against Argentina in London and then a Bledisloe Cup dead rubber in Auckland next month.
“It would mean a lot,” prop Sekope Kepu said.
“Winning away games, Test matches is not always easy, especially here in South Africa where rugby is a big part of their culture and the Springboks a big figure in their history.
“We’ll be doing the best we can possibly do to prepare.”