Australia scrumhalf Will Genia picked out his opposite number Fourie du Preez as a player who will make "a massive difference" for South Africa in the Tri-Nations test this weekend.
Genia said he will be lining up against the best No.9 he's seen by "by far" if, as expected, Du Preez returns to the Springboks' lineup for the first time in nearly two years in Saturday's game at King's Park in Durban.
Du Preez, part of the 2007 World Cup-winning team, missed the entire 2010 international season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
The Wallabies are aiming to make up for a shaky defensive effort against New Zealand against what is expected to be a near-full strength team following Springboks second-stringers' heavy defeats in Australasia.
"He (Du Preez) is in my opinion probably by far the best halfback I've seen play," Genia said. "He's always someone I've tried to learn things off and model a little bit of my game around.
"He fits in to how they (South Africa) want to play their game: his kicking game, his running game, his passing game and his vision. He always makes the right decision and controls a game very, very well. He's world class and he'll make a massive difference."
Du Preez will likely be one of a host of fit-again senior players recalled by South Africa coach Peter de Villiers for the first of two Tri-Nations home games, although lingering injury doubts over loose forwards Danie Rossouw and Pierre Spies delayed a planned team announcement on Tuesday. Both sides are now set to announce their teams on Thursday.
With Du Preez ready to return for his first test since November 2009, Genia said Australia would have to learn from being "too passive" in defense against New Zealand in a 30-14 loss last Saturday in Auckland.
"We allowed them (New Zealand) too much front-foot ball and when you've got a side like they do, they'll kill you on front-foot ball," he said. "Our defense was pretty poor last week and the only way to erase that memory is to put in a performance that makes you proud."
Australia has added lock Nathan Sharpe, No.8 Radike Samo and prop Salesi Ma'afu to its squad following the All Blacks defeat in preparation for a typically physical battle with the beefed-up Boks.
But Genia also backed the all-around influence of Australia's chief tactician and flyhalf, Quade Cooper.
Genia's provincial teammate was outstanding for the Super Rugby-winning Queensland Reds and was razor-sharp in a convincing 39-20 win over South Africa at home, but was wayward against the All Blacks in Auckland.
"He's obviously quite unpredictable, but the thing about Quade which a lot of people don't know is that he's actually quite a good communicator on the field," Genia said. "He does give very good direction of play and he's very proactive with his communication. It makes my job a hell of a lot easier and the job for the forwards a lot easier."
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