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Wales’ Wayne Pivac and Dan Biggar expect tough Test despite wholesale changes to Springboks

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Johannesburg — “Disrespectful” is a word that has been bandied about since Tuesday by pundits and supporters alike, regarding Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s matchday 23 to face Wales this weekend, but it is an adjective that never slipped past the lips of Wayne Pivac or Dan Biggar on Thursday.

On the contrary, both Wales head coach and captain expressed a shared belief at their team announcement that when the second Test between the two nations kicks-off at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein at 5pm, there will only be hard rugby to overcome; and a tough foe to defeat.

Pivac summed up the feeling in the Welsh camp quite neatly, stating: “We are expecting a South Africa team full of ambition and full of intensity in the way they play the game. We know they will be coming with one thing in mind only, and that is to win a Test match.”

Much has been made of the Boks affecting 19 changes to their side for Saturday’s clash, but for both Pivac and Biggar, this side presents a new set of challenges. There are, of course, new avenues to achieve beating SA in SA first the first time

Both men were also acutely aware of the dangers that such a selection might present and what would be required to claim a famous victory.

“We aren’t really sure what might be coming,” Pivac admitted.

“There are a lot of players there that haven’t played together for a while, so for us it really is about focusing on what we are going to bring to the game. Hopefully, it is going to be a lot more disciplined than last week, because we let ourselves down in that area of the game.

“To hold South Africa as close as we did for as long as we did with the penalty count the way it was, is a testament to some of the good work we did.

“When a coach does what South Africa has done,” Pivac added, “it is a big pat on the back for the squad. (Nienaber) has shown confidence in his squad and if you can get a result by using your whole squad across a series like this, then you are in a pretty good space.”

It was a sentiment shared by flyhalf Biggar.

Said the 32-year-old when asked if he was felt aggrieved by the Bok matchday 23: “No, not at all.

“If you look at the players that they have picked,” he added, “you would almost say that they are the real in-form players. The side that we played last week are the renowned, experienced, the Cup winners; but this team is … they’ve got some real exciting form players.

“When I saw 14 changes (in the starting XV), I was thinking: ‘Who are they going to bring in?’ Then you look at the teamsheet and I don’t expect this to be anything but an incredibly tough game on Saturday …”

Pivac made one change to the starting XV that lost 32-29 to the Books last weekend in Pretoria, elevating Alex Cuthbert into the No 11 jersey at the expense of Josh Admas, who drops down to the bench. The Wales coach explained that the decision to do so was informed by a belief that the Boks will employ a more tactical and accurate kicking game in the City of Roses.

Meanwhile, on the bench veteran prop Wyn Jones will also get a crack at the Boks, while 24-year-old tighthead Sam Wainwright will earn his first Test cap should he be called upon during the encounter.

Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Dan Biggar (capt), 9 Kieran Hardy; 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Josh Adams



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