Home Sport Springboks focused as they hope to start tour with a bang

Springboks focused as they hope to start tour with a bang

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Springbok assistant coach, Deon Davids. Picture: Ashley Vlotman, Gallo Images

Deon Davids admitted that the philosophy of the Welsh has been altered in a handful of ways, the Bok assistant coach believes one thing will remain true: it will be a tough Test for the South Africans.

JOHANNESBURG – However irksome it has been for South African supporters, there can be no denying that Wales have had the wood on the Springboks in recent encounters.

Of the last five encounters since late 2016, the Welsh have won four, the only anomaly being the 2019 World Cup semi-final, narrowly won by the Boks 19-16. It was also the last time the two nations faced each other.

Since then, both teams have introduced new coaches in Jacques Nienaber – the successor to Rassie Erasmus – and Wayne Pivac, who took over the reins from Warren Gatland.

Although Deon Davids admitted that the philosophy of the Welsh has been altered in a handful of ways, the Bok assistant coach believes one thing will remain true: it will be a tough Test for the South Africans on Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm).

“It is important for us,” said Davids, “going into this series (the End of Year Tour against Wales, Scotland and England) that we carry that momentum (of beating New Zealand recently in the Rugby Championship) into the next game.

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“Our focus entirely, is going to be on Wales and we will take it match-by-match. It is always tough coming here at the end of the year. We haven’t beaten Wales here in the last six years. So, it is a very tough game.

“Wales, currently, are the Six Nations champions and they didn’t make it a Grand Slam by losing in the dying minutes against France. Looking back at the semi-final, it was a grind in the World Cup in order to get a good result. We have a lot of respect for them as opponents.”

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The Welsh were mauled by the All Blacks 54-16 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff last Saturday, but this weekend’s Test might be a different affair as the hosts welcome back a gaggle of their first-choice players like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau, Nick Tompkins, Louis Rees-Zammit, Callum Sheedy, Thomas Young and Christ Tshiunza, although talisman Alun Wyn Jones is not expected to play after re-injuring his shoulder in the All Blacks loss.

“Each game brings uniqueness,” Davids continued, while pondering the implications of the heavy defeat Wales received this past weekend.

“Playing against New Zealand, it’s always going to be a very tough game. I think it was a very competitive match. Wales did get a few injuries that might have stopped their momentum going forward into that game but other than that, it was a very good and clinical performance from New Zealand.

“Looking at that game, we know that it is coming this weekend. Wales will be up for it – they will be very competitive and they will make sure that they set things right in the areas that they identify.

“There are players that have played for the British & Irish Lions that are coming back – a guy like Rees-Zammit, or if you think of a guy like Faletau – who are experienced campaigners. So, there is a lot of depth in the Wales squad, a lot of quality in their backline players, a lot of experience up-front, and then also exciting youngsters coming through.”

Davids also revealed that all the national players had joined the Bok squad as of Sunday, with the exception of Sbu Nkosi, who is battling with passport and visa issues. Nonetheless, this would not be a major concern, only a minor annoyance, for the world champions.

Said Davids regarding the right wing position: “In terms of the backline, we’ve got guys like Aphelele Fassi.

“We’ve also got a lot of versatile players, guys like Jesse (Kriel) that can play wing and at centre. We’ve got Lukhanyo Am, who can bail us out in that specific position. We are fortunate in that way we can look at what the opposition offers, and in terms of where we are as a team, what we want to achieve and make a selection from that.”

Nienaber names his matchday 23 today.

@FreemanZAR

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