Whenever the Springboks and Wallabies meet on the highveld, the altitude is always a talking point, particularly from the visitors.
But it will be attitude and not altitude that will win the final Vodacom Tri-Nations Test of the year tomorrow. As always it promises to be an absorbing encounter with the Bok pack and Wallaby backs probably providing the impetus for each team.
At the end of a long international season it will be the team that wants it more who will win. The Wallabies are certain of finishing second and the Boks last on the log, so all that remains is bragging rights.
The visitors are aiming for their third win in-a-row over the Boks, which they last achieved in 2000, including their last victory on South African soil. The Boks will be looking to protect a formidable record against the Australians at Ellis Park having won seven of the eight encounters to date. Many say it is the altitude that is often the difference between the two teams, but the atmosphere at Ellis Park always bring out the best in the Boks.
And coach Jake White does not believe the altitude to be the factor the visitors make it out to be. “Let’s be quite honest, the fact that Australia have now decided to practice in Joâ€™burg for the first time ever it must be an advantage because it is one of the highest rugby grounds in the world to play on. They usually go down to the sea,” he said.
“I don’t think it is a major factor. Look at what the All Blacks did to us at Loftus two weeks ago and they had just landed from New Zealand. So I don’t think it is a difference of winning and losing.”
“I don’t really know how they see the altitude thing, but it must have something to do with performance because a lot of long-distance athletes train at altitude which probably has an effect on your aerobic capacity. Having said that it didn’t help us playing the All Blacks two weeks ago.”
By Andrew Hollely