Sharpe talks up contest

Getty Images     23 Jul 2010     Getty Images

Australian lock Nathan Sharpe has joined the long line of men from both camps predicting a highly-physical and pacy encounter.

The South Africans have made changes to their team in order to field a faster, more mobile unit, but the Australians aren't shying away from a full-throttle showdown, with veteran forward Sharpe pointing at the All Blacks' recent wins over the Boks as a stylistic guide.

"To beat the Springboks you have to take them up front and the All Blacks have shown that by playing physically and expansively," he said.

"Whilst we're a completely different team to New Zealand, they brought the physical aspect to the game to allow them to play with speed as well - I think that's the crucial thing."

"I think it's something that needs to work in tandem (physicality and speed)."

The South Africans were comfortably beaten by the rampant Kiwis, but while the Aussies will have undoubtedly benefited from the preview of their opposition, Sharpe is expecting the best of the Springboks and a highly competitive contest.

"Anyone who writes the Springboks off does so at their own peril," he said.

"This weekend is very important. They're a team that's going to be stung from the last couple of weekends and we're a team that's been building for this game for a month now."

"There's been plenty of chat about it and I think everyone is very keen to get amongst it."

"When you have such a long build up to the game it certainly heightens the anticipation."

South Africa, a proud rugby nation, has rarely lost three straight games, and it seems the prospect has prompted a fresh, more possession-orientated approach.

Speedy half-back Pierre Spies has been called into the side and will provide some attacking drive, while hard running Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks has been granted an opportunity in the No.7 jersey.

The Sprngboks' staff pointed to the fast pace of Suncorp Stadium as one of the key motivators behind their selection changes, but in the opinion of Sharpe, the Brisbane stadium and surface bears the closest resemblance to South African conditions of any ground in Australia.

"[Suncorp] is a great stadium, but it probably doesn't affect me too much in terms of speed," he said.

"If you liken it to any of the South African stadiums, which are fantastic stadiums to play in, it's probably the closest Australia has to that cauldron atmosphere, so we're excited about playing there and I'm sure the South Africans are as well."

Whether or not the Springboks are truly excited to be playing at the venue is up for debate. With the exception of the All Blacks, no side has beaten the Wallabies at Suncorp and the South Africans haven't won in Brisbane since 1971.