Wales will be giving their skipper Dan Biggar every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of arguably the biggest game in their history,
Cape Town – Wales will be giving their skipper Dan Biggar every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of arguably the biggest game in their history when they face the Springboks at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
Having previously never won a Test on South African soil in 54 years before last weekend’s tension-filled 13-12 victory in Bloemfontein, Wales now have an opportunity to claim a historic maiden series triumph over the world champions in their backyard.
Wayne Pivac’s team would return as legends to Cardiff should they achieve what was previously deemed impossible.
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But for the visitors to stand a chance at the same stadium where the British and Irish Lions surrendered in the series-decider against the Boks last year, they will need their inspirational skipper Biggar.
The Wales No.10 was forced to leave the field in Bloemfontein with a shoulder injury during the second half and therefore left the match-winning conversion to replacement flyhalf Gareth Anscombe.
Ironically, Biggar had missed a conversion in the dying moments of the first Test the previous week to put Wales ahead by two points.
Wales have further injury worries ahead of the series decider with wing Alex Cuthbert already returning home, while prop Dillon Lewis also left the field injured in Bloemfontein.
“In terms of Dan, we’ll wait until later in the week, while Alex has gone home. We’ve got a few bumps and bruises,” Wales assistant coach Gethin Jenkins said.
“He’s (Lewis) recovered well and hopefully he’ll train Thursday and be back on the field on the weekend.
“However, there’s not too much to write home about and I think we’ll have a full squad to select from.”
Should Bigger be ruled out, Wales coach Wayne Pivac will at least be able to draw confidence from Anscombe’s display in Bloemfontein where the former Auckland Blues star not only slotted the match-winning conversion from the touchline, but also had the vision to find Josh Adams out on the wing with a delightful long pass to set up the vital last try.
Pivac will be more concerned with his options in the front row should Lewis not recover before Saturday.
The visitors are already without strongmen Tomas Francis and Leon Brown and would be down to their fourth-choice tight-head Sam Wainwright.
The Saracens front-ranker only made his Test debut last week when he replaced Lewis off the bench, and it would be expecting plenty of the 24-year-old to face off against the all-powerful Bok forward unit in such a crucial Test.
Pivac and his support staff are undoubtedly envious of the resources available to Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
The Bok mentor made 14 changes for the second Test and has now made a further 10 this week with the majority of the World Cup winners returning to the starting XV.
This situation really does give the Boks an advantage, especially during the closing stages of the game when they can bring on a fresh set of substitutes to complete the job.
“It’s going to be a similar side to the one we faced in the first Test and we were close to getting a result in that game,” Jenkins said.
“Nothing changes in terms of our preparation. The challenge for us last week was that a form team was picked because the bulk of those players were in the United Rugby Challenge.
“They hadn’t played together too many times, so this week, they went back to the tried and tested. Hopefully, the homework will be done and the guys will know what’ll need to be done from a mental perspective.
“The stuff they bring off the bench is a big part of the game. South Africa bring strength in depth, they’ve got a lot of quality. It’s a chance for us to prove again that we’ve got the attitude and fight to stick in there.”