Boks to target Wallabies lineout

Springbok assistant coach John McFarland says they will use the lineout in a bid to gain the ascendancy against the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.

The Boks came away with four valuable log points from their South American sojourn, despite flirting dangerously with their first Test loss against the Argentinians. While their performance at scrum time sparked indignation, their lineout reputation remained firmly intact.

The return of lineout general Victor Matfield for the match against the Wallabies will provide further options for Heyneke Meyer and his coaching staff. The 113-Test veteran participated in all three of the Bok practice sessions last week and is expected to take his place in the second row at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.

His presence alone will be enough to unsettle the Wallabies' inexperienced hooker James Hanson, an area of the game which the Boks look set to exploit.

'They conceded tries from lineout drives [against the All Blacks], which is obviously one of our strengths, and an area we will look at,' said McFarland on Monday. 'Then there were two or three long-range tries from turnover ball. We struggled with that ourselves in Salta. It is very hard to get a defensive line in place when you've got broken play and turnover ball. They could've just as easily beaten the All Blacks in Sydney, and probably should have done.'

While the current Bok camp has its fair share of experienced campaigners, the team fielded in Salta had a fresh look about it, with Lood de Jager, Handré Pollard and Damian de Allende boasting a handful of caps between them. After some promising early displays in the green and gold, De Jager went missing for large periods against Argentina and Meyer will be relieved to call on Matfield for the match in Perth.

'We weren't at our best in Salta,' admitted McFarland. 'But we got through it and we won the game. We had a lot of guys who were inexperienced, and it was their first sort of passionate Test at that level. They'll be better for the experience. It's easier to correct those mistakes after a win, as opposed to a loss.'

However, the Boks will have to make do without the services of Willem Alberts, who has missed the trip with back issues. There are no other injury concerns heading into the week, although team doctor Craig Roberts realises the need to manage the load on certain players.

'You have to treat every player on an individual basis,' said Roberts. 'Quite a few of the guys have had an injury-enforced break, while there are other guys that have played almost every single Super Rugby game. Load management is not just about match time, it's also done in training.'

The Bok scrum foundered badly against Argentina, with loosehead prop Gurthrö Steenkamp enduring a particularly tough afternoon. Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira looks set to be reinstated to the front row, after making good progress in his rehabilitation from a neck injury.

'He came through the games well,' said Roberts. 'His neck has shown no residual symptoms, no stiffness or anything like that. He's still working toward full-match fitness, but we're very happy with where he is at the moment.'

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images