“Australia are a dangerous side when they get quick ball, especially their backs, who are unbelievable. If our defence is not 100%, they will punish us,” Meyer told reporters in Johannesburg on Saturday.
While the Australian public are tearing into their team after two straight losses to New Zealand, including a 22-0 defeat in Auckland last weekend – the first time in 50 years that the Wallabies have not scored a point against the All Blacks – Meyer said Robbie Deans’s charges still had the ability to hurt the Springboks.
“Australia are a very good team and we don’t have a good record against them. New Zealand are just a way ahead of everyone at the moment and nobody’s giving us a chance in Perth next weekend.
“Australia have a very good pack which you cannot underestimate and it should be a very good contest at the breakdowns. We need to be very direct and if we kick aimlessly, they are very good at counter-attacking.
“They will definitely test us on defence because they run different lines and they have a more backline-orientated team. I’m very realistic and I know how tough it’s going to be against the Wallabies,” Meyer said.
South Africa’s new coach is not expected to make radical changes to either the Springbok game plan or personnel, despite the disapppointing 16-16 draw against Argentina in Mendoza last weekend.
“You change the game plan week-by-week depending on the opposition, but they’re just small tweaks and you still play to your strengths. This whole thing about game plans is totally romanticised and unrealistic. Eighty percent of the game plan is the same for every team in the world and there’s no such things as Plans B, C or D, and you can’t get to Point E on the field if you still haven’t covered Point A.
“The game plan is the same one that wins World Cups and it’s a game plan that suits the Springboks. But the base is not even in place yet and the only time a team really learns is when they’re playing away.
“I’m a guy who backs the players, will give them continuity and once we’ve played away from home then I’ll look at the combinations and be ruthless. We need to get our depth sorted first,” Meyer said.
While Australians are bemoaning their run of 14 defeats in 17 matches against the All Blacks, the current Wallabies can make history against the Springboks in Perth. If Australia win, it will be their fifth successive triumph against South Africa, improving on the four straight victories achieved by the world champion 1999/2000 side.
Meyer said he was expecting a much more fluid game in Perth after the forward-dominated arm-wrestle in Mendoza, which saw the Springboks struggle to obtain any front-foot ball.
“Ja, I think we’ll get much quicker ball against Australia and the game will be more like we’re used to in the southern hemisphere. Against Argentina we didn’t get any quick ball, but we must adapt to the referee. We weren’t accurate enough on our cleaning out and we’ve worked very hard on that this week,” Meyer said.
Australia have scored just one try in their two matches against the All Blacks this year, while South Africa managed four in their games against Argentina, but Meyer said New Zealand and the Wallabies have greater vision than his side.
“Most tries come from broken field possession or turnovers and it’s not about the game plan, it’s about reading the situation. The more experienced players read the situation better and Australia and New Zealand are better at it than us because of the way they are brought up as rugby players,” Meyer said.