South Africa prepared for tough opening clash with Wales
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks are expecting a “hard grind” Test series opener against Wales on Saturday.
Wales have arrived in South Africa on the back of a poor Guinness Six Nations campaign that ended with them losing at home to Italy.
Two of their three appointments with the Springboks are at altitude, starting in Pretoria.
And Wales have lost all 10 previous games they have played against the reigning world champions on South African soil.
But Nienaber said: “Wales have been training together for a few weeks now and we have no doubt that they will give everything against us on Saturday.
“They are an experienced squad and they have top-class players in their ranks, with some of them having represented the British and Irish Lions last year, so we are expecting a hard grind of a Test.
“They have physical forwards and backs that spark something from nothing, so we need to deliver a quality performance in order to get our season off to a strong start.”
Leicester number eight Jasper Wiese will start for South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.
The Tigers forward, who scored a try when Leicester beat Gallagher Premiership final opponents Saracens on June 18, features in a powerful Springboks side skippered by Siya Kolisi.
Kolisi is among nine players that started South Africa’s 23-18 victory over Wales in Cardiff last November.
The former Sale pair of scrum-half Faf de Klerk and lock Lood de Jager also start, while Nienaber has opted for six forwards and just two backs among his replacements.
“We have a talented group of players, and we believe the match-day squad we selected ticks the boxes in terms of what we would like to achieve in the opening Test against Wales,” Nienaber added.
“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.
“Unfortunately, with such a big squad there will always be a few unlucky players, but it is a fine balancing act to ensure we win Tests, build squad depth and transform as a team in the way we play.”
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