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Boks make four changes for Wales clash as Nienaber expects tough struggle


Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has made four changes to his matchday squad that defeated the All Blacks down under for their Test against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday (AEDT).

The changes mean starts for Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel and Herschel Jantjies.

Willemse, who has 14 Test caps, will earn his fourth start for the Boks when he runs out at fullback, while it will be Jantjies’ third Test in the No.9 jersey as he pairs up with No. 10 Handré Pollard in the halfback combination.

Willemse comes in for Willie le Roux in a rotational switch, and Jantjies takes over from Faf de Klerk who was ruled out of the squad due to a hip flexor injury. Kriel replaces Sbu Nkosi, who is yet to travel to the UK as he awaits the necessary paperwork.

Jantjies’ promotion to the starting line-up sees Cobus Reinach being drafted onto the replacements bench in the only change among the reserves.

“We selected this squad with an eye on maintaining consistency in selection from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, but at the same time giving players who have been knocking on the door for a while now an opportunity to play,” said Nienaber.

“Damian and Herschel have featured off the bench a fair bit and this is a fantastic opportunity to give them a chance to start as we look to build our squad depth with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“Jesse has also been training hard; he is very experienced and he brings the physicality that will be necessary against Wales.

“We know what we have in Willie and Faf, and it is important to give Damian and Herschel game time to develop and measure themselves in starting roles.

“Wales are a quality outfit, and this will present an exciting opportunity for all of these players to make their mark in what is a very important Test to set the tone for this tour, and also in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup.”

Nienaber said he expected Wales to pose a big threat. An understrength Welsh were outclassed by the All Blacks last weekend but have all their players available.

The Six Nations champions have not been beaten by the Boks in Cardiff since 2013.

“Wales are a tough side to beat and our track record over here in the last few years is evidence of that,” said Nienaber.

“We also edged them in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, so we know that this is going to be a hard grind of a Test.

“They may have lost against the All Blacks last week (54-16) but this result was in the absence of a number of key players, so this week will be a completely different proposition.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber looks on

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

“They have a formidable pack of forwards and some equally experienced and high-calibre backline players, several of whom played for the British & Irish Lions, and to add to this they will play in cool and possibly wet conditions that they are well suited to, so we know what we are in for.

“That said, we had a good training camp in France last week and some of the overseas-based players were in action for their clubs, so the player are back in the swing of things focused and excited to get back on the field.”

The Springboks will follow this game with Tests against Scotland and England.

Springbok team to face Wales
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 14 caps, 5pts (1t)

14 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 48 caps, 60 pts (12t)

13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 23 caps, 25 pts (5t)

12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 55 caps, 35 pts (7t)

11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 22 caps, 85 pts (17t)

10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier) – 57 caps, 568 pts (6t, 83c, 120p, 4d)

9 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 18 caps, 25 pts (5t)

8 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 58 caps, 15 pts (3t)

7 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 16 caps, 5 pts (1t)

6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 60 caps, 30 pts (6t)

5 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 53 caps, 25 pts (5t)

4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 94 caps, 15 pts (3t)

3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 51 caps, 5pts (1t)

2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 45 caps, 45 pts (9t)

1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 6 caps, 0pts

Replacements:

16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 43 caps, 45 pts (9t)

17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 56 caps, 5pts (1t)

18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 28 caps, 0 pts

19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 48 caps, 5pts (1t)

20 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 8 caps, 0 pts

21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 18 caps, 40pts (8t)

22 – Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 41 caps, 309 pts (2t, 64c, 56p, 1d)

23 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 71 caps, 141pts (11t, 7c, 21p, 3d)





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