The team line-up is looking good for Wales’ game against the Springboks today. The coaches and the players have spoken all week about how important performance will be in this game, since Wales have registered two pretty lacklustre victories to accompany a thrashing by Australia.
Wales: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Scott Williams, 11-Liam Williams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Gareth Davies; 1-Gethin Jenkins (captain), 2-Ken Owens, 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Luke Charteris, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 6-Dan Lydiate, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: 16-Scott Baldwin, 17-Nicky Smith, 18-Samson Lee, 19-Cory Hill, 20-Taulupe Faletau, 21-Lloyd Williams, 22-Sam Davies, 23-Jamie Roberts.
South Africa: 15-Johan Goosen, 14-Ruan Combrinck, 13-Francois Venter, 12-Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11-Jamba Ulengo, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Faf de Klerk; 1-Tendai Mtawarira, 2-Adriaan Strauss (capt), 3-Lourens Adriaanse, 4-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 5-Lood de Jager, 6-Nizaam Carr, 7-Uzair Cassiem, 8-Warren Whiteley.
Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-Franco Mostert, 20-Jean-Luc du Preez, 21-Piet van Zyl, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Lionel Mapoe.
Great to see Faletau on the bench after returning through injury. What an amazing player. I feel that we’ve missed him this autumn. The guy is just relentless in defence, and a superb ball-carrier from the base of the scrum. I am slightly disappointed that Warburton is injured, as he is a perfect foil for the Springboks’ bulky back row. Tipuric is undoubtedly a fine player, brilliant with ball in hand, but doesn’t offer the same physicality as Warburton. The breakdown will be an interesting area this afternoon as a result.
Under-pressure Springboks coach Allister Coetzee has taken a gamble by dropping veteran winger Bryan Habana from South Africa’s match-day 23, bringing some fresh faces into the squad, with one eye on the next Rugby World Cup in 2019.
“We have a less experienced team, but I want to see some energy and an improved performance. Our selection is also keeping in mind of the process and necessity to build towards the 2019 World Cup.”
The Springboks have endured an even more disappointing autumn than that of Wales. Only a victory will salvage some hope for them in a pretty disastrous season, which should make for a very physical and competitive showdown in Cardiff.