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Loss to Wales was a disaster says Bok coach

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The Springboks’ third and final Test against Wales on Saturday is just as important as their Series-decider against the British & Irish Lions was, according to SA coach Jacques Nienaber.

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa on the attack during the Test match against Wales held at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa on the attack during the Test match against Wales held at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein. Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

Cape Town – The Springboks’ third and final Test against Wales on Saturday is just as important as their Series-decider against the British & Irish Lions was.

So says Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, who named a much-changed line-up for the deciding Test against the Dragons at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday.

South Africa relinquished their No.1 spot on the world rankings after suffering their first-ever defeat to Wales on home soil in the second Test of the Incoming Series in Bloemfontein over the weekend.

Ahead of their 13-12 defeat, the Boks made 14 changes to the run-on side and included a total of six uncapped players.

Speaking during the team announcement on Tuesday, Nienaber said one of their objectives for this week is to adapt, while sharing how huge this game is for the team.

“I really thought there were some instances where we attacked well last week and where we kept ball in hand. I really thought we had opportunities, but we didn’t take them in the last Test. We have a foundation of how we play and we will start like that. The challenge will be to adapt.

“I thought there were a couple of guys that stood out. You can’t judge a player whole season in URC (United Rugby Championship) games and in club rugby, but it’s about how he plays at Test level.

“It wasn’t about disrespecting Wales (changing the team for the second Test), I really think that team could have beaten Wales, if we didn’t think so, we wouldn’t have selected them.

“This game is just as big as the final British & Irish Series game for us. Last week was a disaster for us.

“It wasn’t about us throwing the Test because we didn’t think we could win it, we selected that team because we thought they could win it.”

Star lock Eben Etzebeth will join an elite group of Bok centurions when he runs out at Cape Town Stadium this weekend, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi make his 50th appearance in the Green and Gold.

On their milestones, Nienaber said: “Eben is playing his 100th and Bongi is playing his 50th. They have been given the opportunity to play in these milestone games because of team performances. Rugby is a team sport. If you lose your 100th Test, I think that haunts you for the rest of your life. The key thing is how they can serve the team. Both those guys have been great warriors for South African rugby.

“Eben has always been an athlete. I think he played for the Stormers before he played for Western Province. He has grown into a leader, he had no stress (when he started playing for the Boks), and now he has grown into this man.”

The deciding Test kicks off at 5.05pm on Saturday.

@WynonaLouw

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